By Caroline Sellers
A new federal study shows Arkansas was one of five states where at least 95% of its nursing homes suffered COVID-19 outbreaks that lasted five weeks or more.
The Government Accountability Office, a federal oversight agency based in Washington, examined records at some 13,380 nursing homes nationwide. Besides Arkansas, the report said nursing homes in Alabama, North Dakota, South Carolina and Tennessee suffered “long-duration” outbreaks of the disease lasting at least five weeks.
The report said nursing home staff members were the likely cause for many of the outbreaks. For both long-duration and short-duration outbreaks, 66% of the country’s nursing homes reported that the outbreaks began with a staff member who tested positive within the first week of the outbreak, the GAO said.
Arkansas Department of Health data shows 12,607 nursing home residents had tested positive for COVID-19 during the pandemic and 2,025 had died. In December, Arkansascovid.com obtained inspection reports that described deficiencies in staff and resident COVID-19 testing in nursing homes. The reports showed 24 nursing homes that were deficient in COVID-19 infection control regulations.
The inspection reports found a lack of personal protective equipment and issues with following COVID-19 safety guidelines for residents.
Arkansascovid.com reported in December on state and federal data that showed nursing home residents amounted to at least one of every three COVID-19 related deaths.