While nursing homes are seeing a spike in COVID cases, Arizona's numbers are harder to find
Long-term care facilities are facing a spike in cases and deaths again as the omicron variant triggers the highest number of cases since the start of the pandemic.
The week ending in Jan. 16 saw more than 41,000 cases in nursing homes nationwide. But state Director for AARP Dana Kennedy says Arizona hasn’t been totally transparent with the numbers.
That data often gets reported directly to the CDC.
“It’s been hard to find Arizona numbers from the very beginning. And unfortunately those numbers aren’t readily broken down and available to the public. We fought early on to make that information available but it is challenging.” Kennedy said.
To add insult to injury, these facilities often don't have the best access to boosters. That’s due to accessibility challenges for many residents in the homes.
The Biden administration had planned for pharmacies to give shots on site through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. The administration did not uphold that for boosters.
“What we were told is the reason is we are in a completely different place in availability for vaccines than we were a year ago. So for the most part anybody who wants a vaccine right now can go to their local pharmacy and get a vaccine. The problem with skilled nursing facilities is that residents really can’t leave,” Kennedy said.
She added Arizona has one of the worst rates of getting booster shots in people in these facilities.