More than half of Massachusetts’ coronavirus deaths have been nursing home residents

BOSTON (WHDH) - More than half of all coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts have been residents at nursing homes and long-term care facilities, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Monday.

“With respect to nursing homes, Massachusetts has unfortunately evolved into a national hotspot for coronavirus,” Baker said during a news conference at the State House. “Nursing facilities have been hard hit by this insidious virus. It’s particularly tough and lethal for older adults.”

As of Monday, 10,031 residents and staff at the state’s 386 nursing homes, 255 assisted living residences, and 93 rest homes have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to Baker.

Fifty-six percent of the state’s 2,899 coronavirus deaths have been residents at nursing homes and longterm care facilities, Baker said.

Baker said COVID-19 has been spreading rapidly through nursing homes. In some cases, the disease has gone undetected for days.

Baker added that National Guard has done a “tremendous” job in testing nursing home residents before announcing new measures to slow the spread of the virus at longterm care facilities statewide.

“Nursing homes have a pressing obligation to provide the best care they can for many of our most vulnerable residents,” Baker said.

The nursing home industry and the long-term care community will receive another round of $130 million in COVID-19 funding. Additional help will also be made available to address staffing shortages.

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The funding will help pay for more staff, “state-of-the-art” infection control, and cleaning services, according to Baker. Clinical response teams are also being established to be deployed to facilities in need of emergency assistance.

“These new staffing resources will be available for all nursing homes,” Baker said.

The state is also implementing a set of mandatory criteria for nursing homes to follow, including tests for all residents and staff, adherence to a 28-point infection control checklist, and meeting personal protective equipment requirements.

Facilities will be audited to make sure they are meeting those requirements.

“Protecting our most vulnerable citizens has emerged as among the greatest challenges we face in the fight against COVID-19,” Baker said. “This complicated for facilities where several residents live in close quarters and require attentive care from their providers multiple times per day.”

Those over the age of 70 with preexisting conditions continue to be the most susceptible to death.

Baker vowed to be as “aggressive” as possible in assisting facilities that have been ravaged by the coronavirus.

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