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CT nursing homes use infection lull to prepare for second wave

Connecticut has about a 60-day PPE supply and is trying to get to 90 days, but it’s getting tougher with a resurgence of the virus in other parts of the country.

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — The COVID infections inside nursing homes have leveled off, but officials and healthcare workers are using this lull to get ready for the next wave.

For $450,000, Connecticut hired the firm Mathematica Policy Research to investigate the response of longterm care facilities to COVID-19.

"They can tell us from around the country. And they bring in expertise that we didn’t have in house," said Gov. Lamont.

Gov. Lamont wants the investigation done by September. But between now and then nursing homes are scrambling to stockpile PPE.

Mag Morelli, the President of Leading Age Connecticut said, "We need to be preparing for the fall resurgence of this virus. We need to be obtaining enough PPE so we can continuously replenish our supply."

Connecticut has about a 60-day supply and is trying to get to 90 days, but it’s getting tougher with a resurgence of the virus in other parts of the country.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal has sponsored the Nursing Home COVID 19 Prevention Act to provide 2-billion in funding to nursing homes.

"Lets remember who these people are. These have fought in our wars, raised our families, policed our streets, fought fires. The people who live in these facilities deserve the very best care," said Blumenthal. 

On this day, officials gathered with frontline healthcare workers outside of Riverside Health and Rehabilitation in East Hartford -- one of the hardest hit nursing homes.

They lost dozens of residents and two staff members. 89 staff have tested positive. Including Karen McKenzie.

"I really didn’t have any symptoms or anything at all. I’m just grateful to God that I’m okay and my family feels good," she said.

It’s that asymptomatic transmission that likely allowed COVID to spread undetected in the vulnerable population for months.

Matthew Barrett, the CEO of the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities said, "For months we had a symptoms based strategy to combat the virus."

Nursing home Administrator Karen Chadderton told FOX61 the virus has taken an emotional toll on all of them.

"There have been a lot of tears shed by the staff over the residents and when someone says how are you doing. In the middle of this there were times where all they could do was stand there and just cry."

Senator Blumenthal said he supports continued hazard pay for nursing home workers and he said he thinks there should be a 9/11 type commission to investigate what happened at longterm care facilities at the federal level.

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