As the number of new cases is surging, the impacts of COVID-19 are really starting to be seen. One area that is taking a serious hit again is nursing homes. The nationwide totals for these facilities are the highest they’ve been since the beginning of August. In the spring, most cases and deaths tied to nursing homes were happening in major cities. Now, they’re appearing in high numbers in rural locations.
Per the data, urban nursing home deaths accounted for one-third of all nursing home deaths in late May and early June. Currently, they only account for 9%. Rural nursing homes accounted for only 4% of the deaths in late May; whereas, they’re now at 18%. Compared to all deaths related to COVID-19, those in long-term care represent about 40%, with over 90,000 deaths so far.
The elderly aren’t the only ones vulnerable to contracting the virus. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association released a joint statement, “As of Nov. 12, a total of 1,039,464 children have tested positive for Covid-19 since the onset of the pandemic. In the one-week period ending Nov. 12, there were 111,946 new cases in children, which is substantially larger than any previous week in the pandemic.”
Since children don’t usually have any or only a few symptoms, the case counts for kids are thought to be widely underreported. While this means they’re less likely to have a severe infection, experts point out they can easily spread the virus to others. Health officials also warn that the long-term effects of the virus on children aren’t known yet.
All of this is happening as Thanksgiving is fast approaching. Some people think that if they get a coronavirus test before getting together with family for the holidays and it comes back negative, it’s okay to go ahead with their plans. Many physicians warn this isn’t a good strategy because it can take several days for a new infection to show up in the test results or symptoms to appear. In the meantime, you could have the virus and be transmitting it to others.
If you want to gather with family and friends for the holidays, experts are recommending that everyone attending the function self-quarantines for 14 days before getting together. This means staying at home, not even running to the grocery store. If you’re not going to be visiting elderly family members, experts say quarantining for 5 – 7 days and getting a negative test after the quarantine period is probably sufficient. After you do this, you still must quarantine before the gathering, or the clock starts all over again. If you need to travel to get to your destination, you must factor in the risk that presents. Airplane travel poses more of a risk than driving a car.
Given the high transmissibility of the virus, especially in settings of being inside around other people for extended periods of time, like with a family gathering, many experts are recommending that people make alternative plans this year for the holidays. These plans should be staying at home and celebrating with those you live with. You can still connect with relatives you’re not getting to see in person by using phone or video calls. It’s not the same, but it’s safer.