Kimberly Hall North is a Genesis HealthCare skilled nursing and rehabilitation center in Windsor, June 18, 2020. Cloe Poisson /
Donna Sullivan visits with her long-time partner, Walter Zbikowski, through a window at Parkway Pavilion Health and Rehabilitation Center in Enfield. Cloe Poisson /

Nearly 60% of the state’s nursing homes have recorded at least one case of COVID-19 among residents or staff during the last two weeks, state officials said Thursday, and plans are being made to test every resident in those facilities after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

“Last week was a particularly bad week for outbreaks in nursing homes,” Dr. Vivian Leung, coordinator of the Healthcare Associated Infections Program at the Department of Public Health, told lawmakers during a meeting of the state’s nursing home oversight group. “We do expect that the number of nursing homes that have staff cases will increase as long as community transmission rates are high.”

From Dec. 1 to 15, every nursing home resident in Connecticut will be tested for the virus, officials said.

Currently, nursing homes with at least one case of COVID-19 among residents or staff must test everyone in the facility on a weekly basis until the home is coronavirus free for 14 days. Staff are tested weekly regardless of whether the nursing home has any COVID-19 cases.

“We are very concerned about the holidays, not only for staff exposures, but for resident exposures as well,” Leung said. “We want to catch any cases that happen over Thanksgiving as soon as possible. The care partners will be scheduling to test every single nursing home resident in the state, whether or not the nursing home is experiencing cases.”

Coronavirus cases among residents and staff have swelled recently. Between Oct. 28 and Nov. 3, 113 new resident infections were recorded in nursing homes. From Nov. 4 to 10, the number of new cases jumped to 254. And from Nov. 11 to 17, the number of new cases increased to 306.

From the beginning of the pandemic through Nov. 17, the most recent data available, there have been a total of 9,867 resident cases. COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents reached 3,018.

The state has recorded 1,240 staff cases since June 17 (it did not track the numbers prior to that, but federal data show more than 3,400 nursing home employees in Connecticut have been infected with COVID-19 or were presumed to have the disease). Two hundred and sixty-two new staff cases were logged between Nov. 11 and 17 alone.

Resident cases have been detected in more than four dozen homes.

“Our resident cases doubled last week, and 57 nursing homes have had resident cases in the past two weeks,” Leung said. “This is over 25% of our nursing homes.”

The state is now testing more than 25,000 nursing home workers and more than 10,000 residents on a weekly basis.

Outbreaks in Danbury and New London nursing homes have “settled down” recently, Leung said, but New Haven and Hartford counties “continue to be hotspots.”

Indoor visits at nursing homes will be allowed to continue during the holidays, so long as the facilities have no positive cases, officials said. Families can also take their loved ones home for the holidays.

The public health department and the state’s long-term care ombudswoman will issue letters to families about the risks of visitation and how to minimize exposure.

Jenna is CT Mirror’s Health Reporter, focusing on health access, affordability, quality, equity and disparities, social determinants of health, health system planning, infrastructure, processes, information systems, and other health policy. Before joining CT Mirror Jenna was a reporter at The Hartford Courant for 10 years, where she consistently won statewide and regional awards. Jenna has a Master of Science degree in Interactive Media from Quinnipiac University and a Bachelor or Arts degree in Journalism from Grand Valley State University.

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