32 Nursing Home Residents Die in COVID-19 Outbreak During Mass Vaccination Drive

Source: 32 Nursing Home Residents Die in COVID-19 Outbreak During Mass Vaccination Drive – The Vaccine Reaction

Elderly woman sitting alone and looking sadly outside the window

Thirty-two residents have died in The Commons on St. Anthony, a nursing home in Auburn, Cayuga county, New York during  a COVID-19 outbreak that started at the end of December 2020. On Jan. 5, 2021, there were 130 residents, who tested positive for COVID-19 and, as of Jan. 11, there were 104 active coronavirus cases in the nursing home with 47 recoveries and 47 employees in quarantine.1 2 3

Recently, the New York nursing home began administering the COVID-19 vaccine to staff and residents. On Dec. 22, 193 residents and 113 staff members received their first COVID-19 vaccination, with the second dose given on Jan. 12.4 As of Jan. 6, 80 percent of the residents had been vaccinated.5 The local news reported, “The outbreak started at the same time the facility started to administer the COVID-19 vaccine.”6

In an attempt to curb the COVID-19 outbreak, the building is on droplet precaution and staff members are required to wear gowns, face shields, gloves and a mask.7 COVID-19 positive residents are quarantined on a separate floor from other residents.8

Prior to this outbreak, there had been no COVID-19 related deaths in any Cayuga county nursing home. More than half of the 3,650 cases in Cayuga county have been reported since Dec. 21.9 In December, Cayuga county had 2,024 cases of confirmed COVD-19.10

Julie Sheedy, spokesperson for Loretto which operates The Commons nursing home said:

Our staff continues to do everything it possibly can to keep COVID outside our doors, and our employees have made tremendous personal sacrifices to limit their own exposure. But they still need to go to grocery stores in order to feed their families. Their children need to go to school and daycare. And many of our employees rely on public transportation.11

A federal program partnering pharmacies with nursing homes has worked to provide COVID-19 vaccination programs to nursing home residents in recent weeks. According to New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo, 288 of the 611 the state’s nursing homes had completed administering the first dose of the vaccine as of Jan. 4.12

The COVID-19 vaccination program coincides with an upsurge in COVID-19 related deaths in New York nursing homes and adult care facilities. According to the New York State Department of Health and the Long-Term Care Community Coalition, there were 508 deaths (250 per week) in the two weeks prior to Jan. 4. According to the CDC, between July and October, the average weekly death toll was just 12 deaths every week in nursing homes and adult care facilities.13

After the recent upsurge in cases and deaths in New York nursing homes, Governor Cuomo continued to promote the vaccination effort stating that vaccines are, “the weapon that will win the war.”14