By Paul Hughes, Republican-American
State officials are responding to a renewed COVID-19 threat in Connecticut nursing homes from newly arrived residents who had not been vaccinated before they were admitted.
The steps that have been taken in recent weeks include deploying teams from the Connecticut National Guard to assist nursing homes vaccinate newcomers who had not been immunized against the coronavirus yet.
State officials said the situation is under control.
Nursing homes were a COVID hotspot in Connecticut. An outside consultant concluded in a report last year that the state’s emergency response planning overlooked nursing homes at the start of the coronavirus outbreak a year ago.
Infections, hospitalizations and deaths plunged among the vulnerable nursing home population as immunization rates steadily increased from mid-December through February as dedicated COVID-19 vaccine clinics were conducted.
The nursing home population is fluid, and it became apparent after the nursing home clinics concluded that many newly admitted residents had not been vaccinated.
“We found that could be a bit of a leak in the vessel,” Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday.
Roughly 5% of the nursing home population turns over on weekly basis, said Josh Geballe, the governor’s chief operating officer. There were approximately 18,000 nursing home residents, according to the latest weekly state census.
State officials are also working to have hospitals vaccinate patients being discharged to nursing homes, he said. In addition, state officials are making sure nursing homes have partnered with pharmacies or other vaccine providers to assure newly admitted residents are vaccinated on a regular, ongoing basis, he said.
“We think we’ve got that well-covered at this point,” Geballe said.
Only nine new cases of COVID-19 were reported among nursing home residents in the latest weekly report, and just one coronavirus-associated death. The next weekly summary will be released Thursday.
Through April 1, nursing homes reported 1,532 new cases in 2021 and 433 deaths. In contrast, there were 3,290 cases and 596 deaths reported in November and December as a second statewide outbreak surged.
There now have been 14,013 reported cases of COVID-19 in nursing homes and 3,867 deaths of nursing home residents attributed to COVID-19 or complications from the disease.
Through April 1, there have been 137 COVID-19 cases at Beacon Brook Health Center and 60 at Glendale Center, both in Naugatuck, according to state data. There have been 35 coronavirus-related deaths of Beacon Brook residents and eight at Glendale.
The latest weekly report, which covered March 24 through March 31, showed one case at Beacon Brook during that time, none at Glendale and no COVID-related deaths at either nursing home.
Over the weekend, 2,699 additional COVID-19 cases were reported statewide out of 82,365 test results received between Friday and Sunday. There now have been 316,555 reported cases, and more than 7.8 million molecular and antigen tests have been performed.
There were 19 new coronavirus-linked deaths reported over the weekend. The death toll stood at 7,923 on Monday.
There was a net decline of 15 patients hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 between Friday and Sunday to 484 statewide, including 196 patients in New Haven County, 128 patients in Fairfield County and 109 patients in Hartford County.
There have been 3,207 cases in Naugatuck, 817 in Prospect and 510 in Beacon Falls since last March.
There have been 88 coronavirus-associated deaths in Naugatuck, six in Beacon Falls and five in Prospect, according to state officials.
Elio Gugliotti contributed to this report.