A supporter of the health care workers at Kimberly Hall North show their appreciation for their work at the skilled nursing facility with a drive-through tribute. Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org
A health care worker at Kimberly Hall North waves to supporters as they show their appreciation to workers at the skilled nursing facility with a drive-through tribute last month. . Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org

More than 60% of Connecticut nursing homes with COVID-19 patients have completed an omnibus testing program crucial to efforts to curtail the pandemic’s spread, Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration reported late Thursday.

And while 2,879 elderly residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities have died from the coronavirus, the latest data also shows deaths and infections continue to grow at slower rates, prompting industry leaders to project patient recovery numbers in the thousands.

Of the 170 nursing home complexes reporting at least one case of COVID-19, 104 facilities — just over 60% — have completed point prevalence surveys.

These surveys specifically involve testing all residents of any nursing home — excluding those already confirmed with the coronavirus — all at a single point in time.

State health and nursing home officials both say this is a vital data collection tool that can be used to control the spread of infection. The results allow facilities to quickly identify and to segregate infected from non-infected residents, and also to intensify the use of protective gear among staff assigned to treat those with COVID-19.

Both deaths and infections among Connecticut nursing home residents have been growing at slower rates for more than a month.

The latest report found these rates have declined for six consecutive weeks.

Deaths rose by 144, or 6%, during the latest reporting period after increasing by 9.5% in the previous week.

Infections among nursing home residents grew by 195, or 2.3%, during the week that ended June 3, having risen by 6% during the prior seven days.

“Thousands of nursing home residents with laboratory confirmed COVID-19 are presenting as having recovered from the virus based on the data released tonight,” wrote Mag Morelli, president of Leading Age Connecticut, and Matthew Barrett, president of the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities. “Official recovery statistics are anticipated to be included in future weekly reports. The recovery dynamic is testimony to the perseverance and dedication of the nursing home employees and their determination to get nursing home residents to a place of recovery in battling the highly contagious virus.” 

State health officials haven’t been tracking coronavirus cases as long in Connecticut’s more than 130 assisted living facilities. These centers serve residents age 55 and older who need some assistance with daily living activities but not the skilled care provided by a nursing home.

But fatalities and new COVID-19 cases at these managed-care communities also have been trending downward for the past two weeks.

The latest report found 10 more residents of assisted living facilities have died from the coronavirus, an increase of 3.1% that brings the total to 337. Deaths had grown by 6.4% during the previous reporting period and by 11% during the week ending May 20.

A total of 1,041 infections among assisted living residents have been reported, an increase of 3.4% over the past week. Infections among this population had grown by 3.5% during the previous reporting period and by nearly 12 percent during the week ending May 20.

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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