Data show virus impact slowing in nursing homes

DOVER — While coronavirus has been buffeting long-term care centers, its impact here appears to have slowed, thanks in large part to concentrated testing and strict regulations.

In total, individuals living in nursing homes or similar facilities account for 64% of deaths but just 10% of cases.

The Delaware Division of Public Health reported its weekly update Friday on how the virus is hitting nursing homes and similar facilities: 1,112 confirmed cases involving long-term care residents, with 278 deaths, increases of 86 and 15 from the week prior.

Of the 278 related fatalities, four places — Harrison House Senior Living, Genesis Healthcare’s Milford Center, Brandywine Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and Pinnacle Rehabilitation and Health Center — make up 112, or 41%.

With 35 and 31, respectively, Harrison House and Milford Center account for almost one in four long-term care center deaths stemming from coronavirus. However, Milford Center has not seen any deaths in more than a month, per DPH.

Health officials said this week they are looking at ways to safely allow visitation between residents and families but are very cognizant of the risks. Even so, the “lack of human interaction is almost more painful than the rest of it,” Gov. John Carney acknowledged, citing his own family experiences.

Delaware also announced 112 new cases and two more COVID-related deaths Friday, bringing the cumulative totals to 10,611 and 433.

The Division of Public Health said as of 6 p.m. Thursday 75 people were hospitalized due to coronavirus, the fewest in 10 weeks. Fifteen were critically ill.

DPH said 6,395 Delawareans who have caught the virus have recovered, meaning they’ve gone seven days or more without symptoms. The other 40% of Delawareans who have contracted COVID-19 are either dealing with it or are deceased.

In addition, there have been 450 positive cases and one death among staff members at such facilities, although DPH cautioned such data may not be complete.

The agency also issued a more detailed explanation of how it counts general COVID cases.

“While the total cumulative number of positive cases has increased by 112 between yesterday and today, it is important to note that not all of these cases represent new infections,” spokeswoman Jen Brestel said. “According to data entered as of 6 p.m., Thursday, 36 new positive cases were reported to DPH on June 18.

“The data reported in the daily press releases represents changes to the cumulative case count based on case information entered into the DPH surveillance system the previous day, and may reflect cases reported to the state on multiple days. The remaining positive cases are a result of a data quality measure that required inputting previously reported positive cases, many of which classified as ‘probable,’ that were not already captured as positive cases in our surveillance system.

“These cases will be classified as new cases on the date they were reported to DPH, which will be reflected properly in the data dashboard” at myhealthycommunity.dhss.delaware.gov.

The state announced its first case March 11. There were 10,268 cases, 100 hospitalizations and 414 deaths one week ago and 8,690 cases, 221 hospitalizations and 322 deaths as of the May 22 update, four weeks before the latest data.

So far, about 1.1% of Delawareans have tested positive for the virus. DPH said 90,434 people have been tested, although that figure is preliminary and does not include an unknown number of pending results.

New Castle County just passed Sussex County for most cases, seven weeks after it ceded that ignominious title, and now sits at 4,522 cases. Sussex has seen 4,470, with 1,602 involving residents of Kent County.

Additionally, the addresses for 17 people who have caught the virus are currently unknown, DPH said.

With 196 fatalities, New Castle has seen the most deaths, compared to 153 in Sussex and 84 in Kent. However, the fatality rate is highest in Kent, with 5.2% of residents who catch the virus dying. About 4.3% of New Castle residents and 3.4% of those in Sussex with COVID have passed away.

Still, residents of Sussex are three times more likely than residents of New Castle and two-and-a-half times more likely than those from Kent to have tested positive.

The most recently announced deaths involved two women, one 68 and one 77, with underlying health issues. One was from Sussex and one was from New Castle.

One individual was a resident of a long-term care facility.


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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