Nursing Homes Face New Covid Outbreaks Amid Staff Calls


Highlighting regulators’ concerns about unvaccinated workers, Colorado has enacted a new rule that unvaccinated staff in nursing homes must be tested for the virus each time they come to work, using a rapid test. California requires state health care workers to be vaccinated or tested frequently.

Emotions are raw among nursing home staff and operators.

“I don’t want to lose anyone else,” said Marita Smith, director of the Saint Anne Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Seattle. Eight of the 32 residents, including four who were already in hospice, died from Covid early in the pandemic. Ms Smith says the losses help explain why all 52 staff members were vaccinated.

“If they don’t get it, I question their reason for being in this business,” said Ms. Smith. “You just don’t want to turn around.”

Some nursing home staff who resist vaccination argue that they can protect residents without being vaccinated. “I go home, I stay at home as much as possible, I do grocery shopping instead of shopping, I wash my hands a lot. I don’t expose myself to other people,” said Jessica M., a home care manager in Grand Junction, Colo., who is unvaccinated.

He refused to give his last name as he was not authorized to speak to the media. He added that he wanted to make sure the side effects were not worse than protecting someone from Covid.

But consumer advocates and others point to the long-standing difficulties nursing homes have in protecting their residents from infection. A government report A report published in May found that nursing homes had an average of three Covid outbreaks from May 2020 to January 2021, with two-thirds reporting that outbreaks began when an infected staff member tested positive.

At Catholic group ArchCare, which operates New York City nursing homes and other facilities, CEO Scott LaRue said, “I think it’s only a matter of time before I have to mandate vaccination in all programs.”


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