JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Measures were put in place early on in an attempt to avoid outbreaks in nursing homes, but as Governor Tate Reeves notes, that was somewhat of a catch-22.
“That’s been one of the more complicating things is while you’re trying to protect public health by keeping the virus out of nursing homes, you’re also keeping families from being able to check on their loved ones," said Reeves. “And that’s just not something that makes sense to anyone but I do believe it’s the right thing to do.”
And we know very little about the numbers in Mississippi’s long-term care facilities. It only takes one case for it to be considered and listed as an “outbreak" and 77 facilities fall within that category currently.
So, we asked… will the state release more details of case numbers in those facilities?
“There’s enough volume of data that no individual person’s identity is likely to be released," said State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “So, you will be seeing information released in that regard very, very soon... I would expect maybe even tomorrow.... putting a little pressure on my team to get it out.”
Meanwhile, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator is calling nursing homes ground zero for the virus. At the federal level, the reporting requirements are being strengthened for nursing homes.
“Today we are announcing we are requiring nursing homes to report to patients and their families if there are cases of coronavirus, if there are cases of COVID virus inside the nursing home," the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma said Sunday. "We are also requiring nursing homes to report directly to the CDC when they have cases of COVID virus.”
That notification to the CDC must come within 12 hours of a confirmed single case of COVID-19.
Residents, families and representatives must also be told when three or more individuals develop respiratory symptoms within a 72-hour period.
How will that new requirement impact, if at all, what the Mississippi State Department of Health is doing?
“We’ve been pretty aggressive with nursing homes and doing regular contacts and guidance," said Dobbs. "So, for us we don’t anticipate much change regarding the CMS guidance.”
Dobbs says they are looking at ways to help ramp up cleaning and testing at these facilities, knowing the heightened risk factors due to not only age but also the closer quarters they live in.