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COVID-19 in Nursing Homes

Last Updated: 14 April, 2020

In the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak around the world, many families are concerned about the health and well-being of their loved ones in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Over 3,600 deaths across the nation have been linked to coronavirus outbreaks in these facilities filled with elderly and disabled residents. However, this number is likely much higher given the fact that states do not include those who have died in recent weeks without being tested for the coronavirus.

Among the COVID-19 outbreaks at long-term care facilities include a nursing home in Richmond, Virginia, with 42 deaths and over 100 infections; a central Indiana nursing home with 24 deaths and 16 infections; and veterans home in Holyoke, Massachusetts, with 38 deaths and 88 infections. It is believed that the first coronavirus outbreak in a nursing home occurred at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington, where there have been 43 deaths.

Experts believe that nursing home deaths may continue to skyrocket at high numbers due to chronic staffing shortages that have been worsened by the COVID-19 crisis, shortages of protective supplies, and a lack of available testing. Deaths in nursing homes have continued to increase despite the federal government’s requirement for every worker to be screened for fever or respiratory symptoms at every shift. It is believed that infections continue to find a way into nursing homes because these screenings do not detect people with the coronavirus who are asymptomatic.

This past week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which regulates nursing homes, issued recommendations that urge nursing homes to use separate staffing teams for residents and to designate separate facilities for residents that tested positive for COVID-19. In light of these recent outbreaks, an advocacy group for long-term care providers in Florida has requested protection from lawsuits for healthcare professionals responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.

This request to Florida’s governor includes immunity from any liability, civil or criminal suit under certain conditions for nursing homes, hospitals. Though the governor’s office has yet to respond to this request for legal immunity, many believe that this shifts the focus of these facilities from saving residents’ lives and show that they care more about their own protections.

However, there have been many wrongful death COVID-19 lawsuits filed against long-term care facilities and other businesses. Our elderly loved ones deserve the highest level of care possible when residing in a nursing home, even amid a pandemic. If your loved one has lost their life due to a COVID-19 outbreak at a nursing home facility that could have been prevented, contact the attorneys at Spiros Law, P.C. Our helpful staff will be available to evaluate your situation and discuss your legal options. Though our offices are currently closed for in-person meetings due to the Illinois “shelter-in-place” order, you can still contact us over the phone at (815) 929-9292, on email, or schedule a video meeting.