According to data released by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), 44 percent of all COVID-19 related deaths have occurred in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.
Of the 1,536 total deaths reported as of May 26, there have been 578 among nursing home residents and 105 among assisted living residents.
Although there have been 56,560 cases in total throughout the state, only 7 percent of cases have occurred among nursing homes and assisted living residents — 3,598 and 473, respectively.
DSHS reports that 28 percent of those with confirmed cases in these facilities have recovered.
Accounting for the reported number of fatalities and recoveries, there are currently 2,080 active cases in nursing homes and 170 in assisted living centers.
The high number of deaths in nursing homes relative to the number of cases is consistent with data reported from across the country.
A higher fatality rate in nursing homes also corresponds to the higher fatality rate among infected patients who are older than 65.
Although DSHS has not completed demographic investigations into all cases and fatalities, age groupings have been determined for 14,773 cases and 491 fatalities.
In the investigations, over 16 percent of the cases are with patients 65 and older, but the same age range makes up 70 percent of all deaths.
In March, Governor Abbott instructed state agencies to restrict visitations to nursing homes.
On May 11, Abbott ordered state agencies to conduct tests on all staff and residents in nursing homes.
According to a document published by Texas Health and Human Services (HHS), residents and staff have a right to refuse testing.
However, residents who refuse testing are required to be isolated and monitored for two weeks, but “should not be ‘cohorted’ with residents with required cases,” according to the HHS document.
Staff members who refuse to be tested are required to stop working and self-isolate for 14 days.
On May 27, Abbott announced $3.6 million in funding for “nursing facilities to purchase tablets, webcams, and headphones to connect residents with their loved ones,” according to a press release.
Nursing facilities are able to submit applications to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to receive up to $3,000 per facility from the project.
The money is being allocated from Civil Money Penalty (CMP) funds, which are collected from fines imposed on nursing facilities out of compliance with federal regulations and can be used on resources that “benefit nursing facility residents by improving their quality of care or quality of life.”
There are currently 18,649 active cases in the state. The number of daily new deaths and new cases has noticeably declined in the past three days.
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.