Nationally, there has been a downward trend in cases since the mid-December 2020 peak. While this is true also for nursing homes in Sacramento, it is important to note the factors that increase the risk of a Covid-19 outbreak for nursing home residents, which we discuss here.
Nursing homes are vulnerable hotspots
Although residents of nursing homes make up just 0.5% of California’s population, they account for 26% of the state’s deaths as a result of the pandemic. A number of variables play into this; for example, data shows that virus spread increases by 50% in homes with insufficient staffing levels.
Larger homes, as well as homes serving residents with lower incomes and more diverse demographics, also reflected higher infection rates among residents and workers. Perhaps most notable, for-profit homes had Covid-positive case rates 5-6 times higher than their nonprofit counterparts.
Inconsistencies in reporting
Another reason many are urging caution at elder care facilities is the inconsistency in case reporting in facility workers. Of the nearly 125,000 Covid-related worker’s compensation claims filed in California, one-third are healthcare workers. 40% of those healthcare worker claims are from staff at facilities serving the elderly.
California experts say these numbers are actually higher, citing numerous cases of pandemic-related employee deaths that have gone unreported at facilities. Regulatory agencies have not put any resources into enforcing reporting requirements, or even cross checking consistency in reports given to different governmental agencies at local, state, and national levels. Sacramento residents will be relieved to learn that overall, the county’s nursing homes were among the most consistent reporters.
Push to reopen facilities
Despite these concerns, there is growing support to reopen skilled nursing facilities to allow family members to visit loved ones. Experts and families are concerned about residents’ health deteriorating physically and mentally because they have been isolated from loved ones. Supporters propose that facilities reopen on a limited, tiered basis, allowing each resident one designated relative allowed to visit and provide caretaking duties.
The importance of testing
Because it is so easy for an outbreak to occur in a nursing home, whether in Sacramento or elsewhere in California, it is important to know that being vaccinated does not mean you can’t spread the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued guidance for people who have been fully vaccinated regarding isolation/quarantine protocols, as well as Covid-19 testing.
Regular Covid-19 testing has become an essential part of preventing outbreaks in staff and residents at skilled nursing facilities. Families returning to visit nursing homes should consider getting testing for Covid-19 regularly. This would help prevent both you bringing the virus into your loved one’s nursing home, as well as reducing the risk of you getting infected and possibly infecting others in your household.
Testing options for Sacramento nursing homes
Sacramento County residents looking to get tested have a few options:
- Sacramento County Free Testing Sites: These sites will test regardless of age, but are by appointment only. The tests administered are PCR tests, which require up to 72 hours to process before they can return results. While the tests being free is an advantage, there is a risk of exposure presented in the process of getting tested. This risk is increased for households unable to secure consecutive appointments for each family member on the same day.
- DIY home testing kits
- The kits currently available from retailers provide materials for an RT-PCR test, which requires laboratory processing. The kits are designed so you can administer the test to yourself and then mail the sample to the laboratory for processing. Turnaround time can vary depending on the lab, but is generally 3-10 days once the sample is received. Note that this does not include transit or delivery time.
- Rapid DIY home testing kits were recently authorized for emergency use by the FDA. These tests return results in 15 minutes. They are not yet widely available as initial shipments are still being produced, but are expected to hit pharmacy retailers’ shelves in coming weeks. The initial price is expected to be inflated, but is expected to drop to approximately $30 per test once production is at full capacity.
- Healthcare providers are currently the most accessible way to obtain rapid tests. Onsite medical service providers, like Drip Hydration, can send a nurse to your home and administer the test on your household. This is an attractive option for anyone who becomes a designated caretaker for a family member in a nursing home looking to reduce the risk of exposure in any way they can. Elderly, chronically ill, and/or disabled people who plan to visit loved ones in Sacramento nursing homes may also appreciate having a professional administer the test who can accommodate their medical conditions.
Drip Hydration Can Help Create A Caretaker Safety Plan That Keeps You and Your Loved Ones Safe
If you will be visiting a loved one in a Sacramento nursing home and are concerned about virus spread, our experts can help you custom-design a testing plan for you and your household based on the latest information available. Appointments can be booked online with as little as 24 hours notice.
In the event you test positive, our nurses can advise you on the next steps you should take. Between our progressive group and custom plan discounts, as well as some PPO insurance holders getting partial reimbursement, our services may not be as expensive as you think. Call us today!