Coronavirus deaths at nursing homes in New Jersey nearly tripled in December, as care facilities for the state’s most vulnerable populations struggled to keep the virus out of their midst for nearly 10 months.
According to the ongoing NJ Advance Media analysis of state data, at least 310 long-term care residents and one employee died each month due to the complications of Covid-19.
Hisab came during another week of good news for nursing homes, as residents and staff began the long-awaited vaccination – governing. A big effort that Phil Murphy compared to a “light at the end of the tunnel” that lasts at least until February.
Meanwhile, Covid-1 continues to clean up many nursing homes, representing approximately 1% of New Jersey confirmed coronavirus deaths, a staggering figure that puts them at the top of the country in per capita mortality. Despite the fact that infection control methods that are more widespread than in the spring, and the need for rigorous testing by the state in late November to try to stop the resurgence of the virus from spreading temporarily in facilities, the death toll has skyrocketed.
The rising death toll touched all parts of the state, from the facilities attached to a New Jersey hospital to a small rest house in Warren County, where almost every resident was apparently ill.
At the Cedar Grove Respiratory and Nursing Center in Monroe Township, Gloucester County, 87 residents were infected with the coronavirus and died in the outbreak after the facility was largely rescued during the first wave of the epidemic, its administrator, Yasroil Bro. He said the 180-bed center, which includes the state’s largest ventilator unit, has “the most vulnerable victims”, with seven deaths involving residents receiving life-saving care.
Four residents were hospitalized, Bride said in a statement Thursday, praising his staff for their efforts to bring the infection under control.
“Two members of our staff literally stayed in the building for three weeks to help stop the spread of the virus,” Broyd said.
The state’s health commissioner, Judith Persicili, noted in a news briefing on Wednesday that active coronavirus outbreaks had broken out in more than 425 facilities, more than doubling the number since early November. He said that while highlighting efforts by nursing homes to store protective devices, infected individuals are isolated and regularly tested for coronavirus.
“We have PPE. We have cohabitation. We have the staff, ”said Persicili. “They’re doing all the right things, and the disease is still coming to long-term care facilities.”
,. From December to Dec0, a total of at least 111 facilities recorded COVID-19 deaths, including 25 in which five or more residents died, according to a review by the health department’s NJ Advance Media list of outbreaks. During that time, more than 5,600 residents and employees tested positive for the virus, a 72% increase in new cases since November.
The death toll is at least 311 compared to 45 in September, 65 in October and 111 in November. They arrived during a month in which the coronavirus infected New Jersey, with overall deaths across the state not reaching the levels seen since May.
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“Unfortunately, cases are on the rise in New Jersey, representing the nursing home industry,” said Stuart Shapiro, interim president and chief executive of the New Jersey Health Care Association. “Long-term care centers are a reflection of the communities in which they are located, despite an increase in testing and a reduction in the number of hard-working employees doing other measures.”
The nursing home, which saw an increase in new cases in December, was the 171-bed Seacrest Village in Little Egg Harbor, Ocean County. The state said the outbreak killed 17 people, including 80 residents and 54 staff members. Seakrest officials did not return requests for comment.
Eight residents died at the Clover Rest Home in Warren County, a 33-bed facility in Nolton. The combined data show had 30 captured beds at the end of November, with a total of 29 residents infected.
Clover Rest Home officials also did not return requests for comment.
The Department of Health does not make it easy for people to track how coronavirus is spread in nursing homes. While the department regularly maintains a list of outbreak features, those lists do not show whether a given feature has been found to increase the case from the previous list, and the department does not make available archived versions for comparison on its COVID-19 information dashboard.
To make additional calculations in new cases, compare each list published in the last four months whenever NJ Advance Media entered new homes and new occupants or staff infected.
The state-run Jefferson Health Care Center, which has a 190-bed facility in Washington Township in Gloucester County, reported 11 deaths in the top four last month, according to the state.
Jefferson Health spokeswoman Nicole Pensiro said the nursing home regularly checks residents and staff for coronavirus, and adheres to safety protocols that include personal protective equipment, frequent hand washing and social distance. He said the facility hopes to begin administering vaccinations in early January.
“Covid-19 has had a devastating effect on long-term care facilities around the world,” Pensiro said in a statement. “We are deeply saddened by the loss of so many Jefferson Health Care Center residents.”
In Hudson County, Harbage had eight deaths, although a spokesman said they occurred in a two-month period from Oct. 31. Seven of the dead approached Kovid-19 before being admitted, according to Hackensack Meridian Health, which operates a 247-bed nursing home in North Bergen.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with their loved ones and everyone who has experienced the devastating effects of this epidemic,” Ken Eber, senior vice president of post-acute care at Hackensack Meridian, said in a statement. “The harbor will and will continue to take comprehensive precautionary and protective measures for its inhabitants.”
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It is discouraging that coronaviruses continue to enter nursing homes, said James M. McCracken, head of Leading Age Education Jersey and Delaware, representing nonprofit senior care organizations. He said the facilities are optimistic that the vaccine will eventually turn them into a corner, although it will take time to deliver enough.
“I know there has been an increase in deaths,” McCracken said. “Certainly our members are doing everything possible to protect all their residents and staff, but it is very difficult to manage this virus.”
As the case grows in the community, it is not surprising that deaths have jumped into nursing homes, said Stephanie Silvera, an epidemiologist at Montclair State University. He said there is a risk of the virus being introduced by facilities staff and others due to the unexplained spread of the disease, who must come, he said.
“While we have this really enormous, beyond the transition of the control community, coal mines will become canary nursing homes,” Silvera said.
Which leaves the state’s vaccination efforts a crucial step in protecting nursing home residents. On Wednesday, Persichili said 539 facilities are preparing to receive their first vaccinations and are expected to add more in the coming weeks. In early February, he said the state expects more than 109,000 residents and staff to be vaccinated.
However, Silvera said enough people with long-term care are likely to get the vaccine from late February to early March, before they have been vaccinated to establish the broader immunity needed to slow the spread of the disease.
“The vaccine is really, really good news,” Silvera said. “But if we’re talking about the light at the end of the tunnel, we’re still a long way off.”
Improvement: This post has been updated to improve the Gloucester County location of the Jefferson Health Care Center in Washington Township.
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This report is contributed by NJ Advance Media reporter Matt Arco.