Wisconsin is among 23 states considered coronavirus "hot spots" which saw an increase in COVID-19 cases at nursing homes and assisted living facilities as the virus continued to spread throughout communities in late June and early July, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation review of state data.
But Wisconsin did not reach the levels seen in some states, like Texas and Florida, which had increases of 47 and 51 percent respectively, in long-term care coronavirus cases over a two-week period ending July 10. Wisconsin had a 5-percent rise in COVID-19 cases at long-term care facilities, while cases statewide surged 32 percent.
Between June 24 and July 9, Wisconsin set two new daily records for the number of coronavirus cases and Gov. Tony Evers urged people not to travel for the Fourth of July holiday to try to slow spread of the virus.
Many communities, especially college towns, were experiencing a rapid increase in infections among young people at the time which was helping drive numbers upward. In response, Dane County issued a new public health order closing indoor bar service and reducing restaurant capacity to 25 percent.
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities have strict measures in place to prevent the coronavirus from getting in or spreading inside facilities. Visitation was temporarily banned and infected patients were isolated. Regardless of these precautions, the Kaiser review shows facilities continue to see the number of cases go up, and it can have deadly consequences. The elderly are more vulnerable to severe illness and death from the disease compared to younger people. According to state data, at least 41 percent of all Wisconsin's COVID-19 deaths have been in long-term care facilities.
As of July 15, Wisconsin had 231 active investigations at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. A single positive case of coronavirus triggers an investigation. State health officials say detecting COVID-19 in a nursing home is an indicator that the nursing home is following proper notification procedures and working to protect their residents and employees by using appropriate isolation and infection control practices.
But advocates for the elderly say more needs to be done including regular, ongoing testing and providing adequate personal protective equipment.
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