The first coronavirus outbreak in Pennsylvania nursing and personal care homes is well past its peak, according to new data released Monday by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Nursing homes have been hot spots for the virus, which spread quickly among vulnerable residents who may have roommates and need hands-on care. Older people and those with chronic health conditions are much more likely than the young to develop serious symptoms or die.
In Pennsylvania, residents of long-term-care facilities have accounted for 20% of the nearly 80,000 people who have tested positive for the virus, but 69% of the state’s 5,953 deaths.
The state Department of Health Monday announced that it is requiring all long-term-care facilities to have tested all of their residents and staff at least once for COVID-19 by July 24. The disease can spread without symptoms. Testing can help staff isolate infected individuals quickly.
The state said its new data did not capture all of Philadelphia’s long-term-care facilities. It released charts of rolling seven-day averages without specific data points and did not compare whether the situation in nursing homes is improving faster or slower than it is in surrounding communities.
Shayna Varner, communications director of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, which represents long-term-care facilities, said that long-term providers do not report the numbers the state used. They come from hospitals, labs and public health entities.
The graphs show that total positive cases peaked at about 380 a day in early April. That number is now around 80. Deaths peaked at around 110 per day in late April and early May. They are now closer to 10 per day.
In early April, around 20 facilities a day were experiencing their first case, compared with about two now.
Cases among employees have been steadier than among residents. They hovered around 80 per day through April and are now below 20 per day.