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How Connecticut's nursing homes battled back against COVID

The most recent state data show the state's nursing homes logged five infections and two deaths for the most recent weekly data available.

HARTFORD, Conn — The first case of Coronavirus in Connecticut was discovered at a nursing home back on March 15th. Since that day, Connecticut’s longterm care facilities have struggled and succeeded.

The most recent state data show the state's nursing homes logged five infections and two deaths for the most recent weekly data available. That’s major progress considering nursing homes accounted for 62% of the total COVID deaths in CT. But now, cases of COVID are climbing at nursing homes across the country. Deaths are also ticking up across the country. Here in Connecticut however we are on a different curve. Mag Morelli, the President of LeadingAge Connecticut said, "We see how the cases in the community are surging in other states and we see how the community prevalence then gets carried into the nursing homes."

FOX61 looked into how the state battled back COVID. It’s called ‘point prevalence testing.' Back in May, the state tested 2117 nursing home residents at 33 nursing homes. Of the 2117 residents, 28% tested positive for COVID but 88% of them didn’t show any symptoms and only 12% showed symptoms within 14 days. "The prevalence of the asymptomatic carrier. We just didn’t realize that early on in the pandemic. How many people were actually carrying the virus without any symptoms," said Morelli.

Right now Connecticut is conducting what called ‘surveillance testing.’ Staff get tested once a week. If a positive case is found, all staff and residents are tested weekly until two weeks go by without any positive cases. Data from the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living shows nursing homes are experiencing delays of more than five days to get results. But CT is doing better there too.

"The state has made arrangements with four or five different labs that are located right here in Connecticut. So they are not seeing the pressure that the other labs are seeing with the surge in the rest of the country. We are able to get the test results back within 24-48 hours," explained Morelli. One area where CT can still improve is personal protective equipment. 20% of Connecticut's nursing homes are still without a one week supply of N95 masks.

Next week the independent firm Mathematica Policy Research is expected to submit their interim report into how nursing homes responded to the COVID crisis. Their final report will be issued in September.