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Articles Tagged with Coronavirus

covid-19-4961257_1920-300x169As if we needed further proof that COVID-19 does not discriminate in favor of the famous, we learn that one of the National Football League’s record-setting field goal kickers has just died from COVID-19 complications in a New Orleans nursing home.  73-year old Tom Dempsey, who was born without fingers on his right hand and part of his right foot and yet kicked what was in 1970 the longest field goal (63 yards) in NFL history, died April 4 in New Orleans’ Lambeth House retirement home, where he had been a resident since 2012.    

 The State of Louisiana has become notorious for its initial unwillingness to take COVID-19 as seriously as other states, and now, predictably is paying the price, becoming one of the states with the fastest-growing rates of COVID-19 infections and related deaths.  Included among the alarming number of Louisiana deaths are 15 residents of Lambeth House, where Dempsey had been a resident.  50 of its residents have tested positive for the virus, as of the date of Dempsey’s death. 

But, rather than try to recover from its early ignorance, and get ahead of the virus through competence and transparency, the State of Louisiana has instead opted for shameful secrecy.  Specifically, it has just reversed its previous policy and now will no longer make public the names of the nursing homes identified as having “clusters” of COVID-19.  A “cluster” is defined as two or more related COVID-19 cases—information that is extremely valuable not only to public health officials but also to families whose loved ones are in one of the state’s nursing homes.  Now, Louisiana will merely publish a list of the homes where there are confirmed infections and deaths. And it will now provide this information only twice a week, instead of daily, as had been its practice. 

african-American-cdc-aeh1dbI_a7I-unsplash-1024x683Among the many ugly truths of COVID-19’s heartbreak and ruin, these are the ugliest:

  • In Milwaukee, African Americans are 70% of COVID-19’s deaths, but only 26% of the population.
  • In Louisiana, those numbers are 70% and 32%.

coronavirus4923543_1920-1024x659Over 400 long-term care facilities have been hit with coronavirus, and that number will likely continue to rise. According to a report by NBC News released March 30th, the number of long-term care facilities that have residents infected with coronavirus increased 172% in just one week. Most of these facilities are in New York, New Jersey, Washington, and California, states that make up one-seventh of the national population. But, it’s anticipated that there will be a rapid increase in cases in long-term care facilities throughout the country. Further, the number of cases within each facility continues to rise. For instance, one Maryland facility alone reported 66 cases.

Most concerning, though, is an unwillingness to disclose which facilities have been hit with coronavirus. Even though facilities are releasing data about the number of cases, federal and state officials have not named the facilities. For instance, the Center for Disease Control declined to name the facilities, claiming that the agency does not collect facility names. Additionally, in New York, where the highest number of facilities have been hit, the New York State Department of Health refused to name the 155 affected facilities statewide because of patient confidentiality. Illinois state health officials do not identify facilities with cases for the same reason. The federal government requires long-term care facilities to notify a sick resident’s family of any illness but does not require facilities to provide notification to relatives of other residents. That leaves it up to the facilities themselves whether to communicate with all residents’ families about cases within the facility.

A failure to communicate with the family of potentially affected residents is concerning. Since nursing home and long-term care facility residents tend to be older and suffer from long-term conditions, they are already at a higher risk than the general population. Many facilities also have residents living or interacting in close quarters on a daily basis, compounding the risk to residents. Additionally, coronavirus is already a recognized stressor and a potential cause of anxiety. This failure to disclose which facilities have been affected can add anxiety to the families of residents concerned about their loved ones.

coronavirus-4955367_1920-1024x748 With coronavirus cases on the rise, the need for personal protective equipment, such as face masks, is increasing. Unfortunately, the supplies are drying up.

According to a survey by the United States Conference of Mayors, cities need an estimated 28.5 million face masks and 24.4 million other pieces of personal protective equipment. Healthcare specialists across the country have reported dire shortages of respirators, masks, gowns, and other supplies needed to protect both patients and healthcare workers. According to a survey by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, 37% of health care workers assessing and treating COVID-19 reported that they were almost out of face shields, and 26% said they were almost out of hand sanitizer.

Nursing homes are also facing drastic shortages. A survey of nursing homes and assisted living facilities found that personal protective equipment, as well as disinfecting supplies, are scarce. Approximately two-thirds of the facilities reported having little or no ability to purchase personal protective equipment, including face masks, sterile gowns, face shields, hand sanitizer, wipes, and disinfectant sprays. Almost one-third reported having no N95 masks, which provide a higher level of protection than surgical masks. One Washington facility even had to resort to using plastic garbage bags to make gowns. Considering nursing homes are emerging as a focus of heightened concern during the pandemic, their staff need protective equipment to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

senior-on-phone-and-computer-1024x683COVID-19 has effectively overturned our lives as we knew them. While we are all feeling the effects of this worldwide pandemic, the elderly and those in nursing homes may be feeling the repercussions more intensely than the rest of us. This is because of the extra precautions—like no visitors at nursing homes, even close family—that are being implemented to prevent COVID-19 infections among vulnerable residents. While these measures to protect the health of our loved ones are for the best, they have also left many of those in nursing homes feeling confused, isolated, and lonely.

Why We Need to Make an Effort

Stay-at-home orders are adversely affecting everyone, but the consequences may be much graver for the elderly. Cutting nursing home residents off from their family and friends by not allowing visitors is causing increased stress during an already very stressful time and has left many residents feeling lonely and isolated, not to mention their family members who miss seeing them. This is significant because studies show that people who are lonely and socially isolated are more likely to have heart disease, stroke, depression, and problems with their immune system. Recent research has also found that social isolation, and loneliness boost the chance of premature death at least as much as smoking and obesity. That is why it is absolutely vital to stay as connected as possible to your loved ones while also protecting them from COVID-19. Luckily, we live in an age where there are many tools available to help us stay connected to those who need us most during this tumultuous time.

aging-2379003_1920-1024x819Nursing Home residents require around the clock care and focused one on one attention from skilled nurses and certified nurse assistants. Many nursing homes, however, have severe understaffing problems. These problems are largely the result of nursing home owners putting profits ahead of quality care.  Why is a shortage of staff so important? Being short-staffed seriously impacts the quality of care that residents receive. Understaffing is one of the major contributing factors to nursing home abuse and neglect.  And it can lead to the spread of infections like COVID-19 among vulnerable residents in nursing homes. Already, at least 400 nursing homes around the country have confirmed cases of COVID-19 and that number will likely increase in the days and weeks ahead.

Unfortunately, the problem of understaffing is not likely to go away any time soon. With 25% to 30% of nurses in Illinois set to retire in the next five years, the state expects a shortage of 21,000 nurses by 2021. By contrast, nursing homes expect to see significant growth in population. The number of Illinois residents age 85 and older is projected to grow by over 50 percent by 2030. This will worsen an already serious problem.

How Prevalent is Under Staffing?

coronavirus-4923544_1920-1-1024x576During the global COVID-19 pandemic, elderly populations are among the most vulnerable to the virus and its devastating effects. Nursing Homes are especially vulnerable, as elderly or immunocompromised residents are clustered together.

An analysis by the Chicago Tribune finds that federal nursing home inspection records show that Illinois’ nursing home facilities are among the worst in the nation for preventing patient infections. The Tribune found that one of the major factors leading to poor infection rates is a failure to follow rules to prevent and contain infections.

The Tribune analysis found that 642 out of 723 Illinois nursing homes, or 89%, have been cited for violating infection control regulations at least once since 2016. Moreover, the Tribune found 77 facilities in the Chicago area that had three or more citations since 2016. Nine of those had five or more citations and one had seven. This is especially troubling at the present time, as preventing the spread of COVID-19 requires nursing homes to strictly adhere to infection control measures.

courtroom-898931_1920-3-1024x771Courts across the State of Illinois have closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All civil cases have been continued for several weeks in an effort to enforce social distancing policies and reduce the impact of the virus. Importantly, all civil jury trials have been suspended for March and most of April.  So what happens to your case when the Courts are closed and jury trials are suspended?

Our firm is working hard to ensure that your case continues to move forward in a timely fashion. Individuals and businesses need access to the Courts, and the ability to settle disputes has not declined because of the pandemic. Here’s what happens with the Courts closed:

Electronic Filing is Available

coronavirus-4944680_1920-2Today is Sunday, March 29.  125,000 Americans have tested positive for COVID-19.  More than 2,200 have died.  More than 500 died just yesterday.  Infections and deaths are more than doubling every 3 days.  1,000 Americans will die one day this week.  Having laid waste to New York, this viral hurricane is hungry for more devastation.  The people of Chicago, New Orleans, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Dallas are next in line to suffer the anguish of massive infections, death, and the threatened collapse of their hospital systems.  Small town, rural America will not be spared, either, because COVID-19 doesn’t give a damn for state or county lines.

How does this end?   Quite possibly with hundreds of thousands of Americans dying, according to the Center for Disease Control, and other credible disease modelers. Dr. Anthony Fauci, just today, said 200,000 Americans could die.  How many die depends significantly on whether we and our government take this killer virus seriously.  Whether we are disciplined social distancers and honor the “stay at home” orders in place in most states, will have a lot to do with it.

President Trump knows all of this.  He knows the horror that is bearing down on us.  But we see no sign that this matters to him, at least not as much his re-election chances do.  And he believes those chances are being badly damaged by the “stay at home” orders because they accept, as the price to be paid for saving perhaps a million or more American lives, a significantly weakened American economy (hopefully over the shorter term).

From pandemic under-preparedness to environmental deregulation, Donald Trump’s federal government is out of the business of protecting lives and health.

coronavirus-4957673_1920-1-1024x683As I write this, more than 55,000 Americans have tested positive for COVID-19.  More than 800 of them have died.  More than 200 died yesterday.  In many parts of the country, the number of detected infections, and death, are doubling every 3 days.  By this weekend, more than 100,000 will have tested positive.  Likely more than 1,500 will have died.  The rampage of this virus is on a frightening trajectory; we are likely to see days in the month of April where 500 or more, perhaps even 1000, Americans die in a single day.

Unmoved by the carnage mounting all around him, Donald Trump now enlists Americans to “pack the churches” for Easter in 18 days, in the craven hope that they will literally risk their lives in massive congregations, all to provide the photo op he believes will bolster his chances at re-election.  Most scientists predict that COVID-19 will be at its most savage right about that time.

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