By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Wyoming has one of the country’s highest rates of coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes, according to a report from Wyoming AARP.
According to AARP’s coronavirus dashboard, Wyoming has the third-highest ratio in the nation for coronavirus deaths per 100 nursing home residents, just behind South Dakota and Montana, respectively.
Wyoming also ranks seventh in the nation in the number of coronavirus cases per 100 nursing home resident. South Dakota’s ratio leads the nation in that category as well.
Residents of skilled nursing facilities made up 85% of all coronavirus deaths in Wyoming over the four week period ending Nov. 15. In all, nursing home residents in Wyoming have accounted for 71 deaths or 58% of all coronavirus deaths recorded in Wyoming as of Nov. 15.
The virus’ impact inside nursing homes is perhaps no better illustrated than by the fact 63.6% of nursing homes reported a staffing shortage of direct care workers for the month ending Nov. 15, up from 52% the previous four-week period.
High increases in nursing home staff with coronavirus cases is the likely cause, as the data suggests a rate of 13 staff cases per 100 residents were recorded, up from 3.9 staff cases per 100 residents in the previous four-week period.
“These numbers really underscore the need for visitors to nursing homes to be cognizant of policies put in-place to keep their loved ones safe,” said AARP Wyoming State Director Sam Shumway in a statement. “We have heard reports in recent weeks of the public ignoring safety protocols. When that happens, nursing home residents and staff suffer.”
AARP’s dashboard also notes 42% of the state’s nursing homes had confirmed cases for the four week period ending Nov. 15, which is above the national average of 38%.
In the four-week period ending Nov. 15, 87% of nursing homes in the state reported at least one confirmed case of the coronavirus, much higher than the national average of 69%.
Closer to home, Gov. Mark Gordon recently authorized the use of $10 million of CARES Act money to alleviate nursing home staffing shortages in the State. That authorization came in December and it is unknown the impact of that spending on staffing metrics at the present time.
The number of nursing homes with less than a month’s worth of PPE has also increased from 26% during a four week period ending in October to 30.3% for the four week period ending Nov. 15. N-95 masks were listed as the toughest item to find, followed by gowns and gloves.