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Charlotte Talks: Nursing Homes Struggle With Outbreaks. Now They Are Key In Controlling The Pandemic

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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

As the coronavirus first emerged on American soil, one of the early epicenters was a nursing home near Seattle. Today, 43% of U.S. coronavirus deaths are linked to nursing homes. 

In North Carolina there have been over 600 deaths in long-term care facilities, currently representing 57% of the state's total death toll. In New Hampshire, a staggering 80% of the state’s coronavirus deaths are linked to nursing homes.

Nursing home residents are typically older adults and often have chronic illness or compromised immune systems. They tend to live in close quarters as staff move from room to room to care for each client. To compound the already high risk, there have been at least 500 complaints filed with Occupational Safety and Health Administration in recent months from elder-care facility workers complaining about dangerous working conditions, with some saying management was “well aware the virus was spreading throughout their facilities.”

But one long-term care facility in North Carolina was a success story – they cited extensive preparation, communication, testing and personal protection equipment as key.

Why have nursing homes become COVID-19 hotspots? And could solving these outbreaks be vital to solving the crisis nationwide?

GUESTS

Carli Brosseau, reporter for The News & Observer and ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network

Don Taylor, professor of public policy and director of the social science research institute at Duke University

Ted Goins, president and CEO of Lutheran Services Carolinas, a nonprofit based in Salisbury that runs several elder-care facilities

Jesse Steinmetz is Assistant Producer of Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Before joining WFAE in 2019, he was an intern at WNPR in Hartford, Connecticut and hosted a show at Eastern Connecticut State University.