On the day that state officials celebrated that the first round of vaccines had reached all 213 nursing homes and long-term-care facilities in Connecticut, the latest statistics show that residents are still dying in the homes at an alarming rate. The totals show that the deaths continued to mount with 120 more over the past week.
“It’s a big day,’' Gov. Ned Lamont said outside the LiveWell, not-for-profit facility in Southington that serves 133 residents, all of whom have dementia.
“Connecticut is the first state in the country where every nursing home has gotten their vaccines for that first shot,” Lamont said.
Even as the first round of vaccinations were finishing there, others were starting to administer the second round of shots at an Apple Rehab facility in Middletown. Officials hope to have all of the vaccinations finished by the end of January.
It is still to early however for the vaccine to slow down the the death toll in nursing homes.
At Beechwood Acute Care in New London, owner Bill White said it will likely take until mid-February at least to see the impact of vaccines.
“We are in for a tough stretch yet,” White said.
For the period of Dec. 30 to Jan. 5, there were 120 deaths due to COVID-19 in the state’s 213 nursing homes, according to data released Thursday night by the state health department. Last week, there were 126 deaths. The number of infections increased significantly with 483 this week, compared to 382 last week.
“I can’t speak about the last three weeks,’' Lamont said Friday. “I can tell you that overall, if we had 70 percent of the fatalities related to nursing homes and elder-care centers back in the spring, it’s about 50 percent at this time.’'
“We have a lot of progress still to make,” Lamont said. “Give it another couple more weeks. The second doses will be coming on time. I think you’ll see a big difference made.’'
President-elect Joe Biden’s administration has said it will make all doses of vaccine available, instead of holding some back for second doses. Lamont called this “a very hopeful idea, and I think it’s an interesting idea.’'
Overall, there have been 3,772 COVID deaths in the state’s nursing homes since March or about 61% of the total deaths. The death rate has been significantly lower in long-term care facilities during the second wave of coronavirus infections over the past few months.
In Southington on Friday, Lamont said that stopping the spread of the virus is not easy because the dementia patients are more prone to avoid keeping their masks on and often leave their rooms. But officials said they had accomplished that goal by keeping every resident COVID-free for 279 consecutive days.
“To keep COVID out of here is remarkable,’' Lamont said.
Christopher Keating can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.