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Every Resident of Kansas Nursing Home Tests Positive for COVID-19

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All 62 residents of a Kansas nursing facility that had been warned about adherence to federal coronavirus protocols have tested positive for COVID-19, local health officials announced Monday. Ten have died and one resident is hospitalized, the officials said.

The Norton County Health Department said in a statement that the 51 residents of the Andbe Home in Norton who have not died or been hospitalized are being quarantined in their rooms. The department also confirmed that some staff members had tested positive for COVID-19, though it remains unclear how many workers had contracted the virus and when their tests were administered. The Andbe Home did not return a request for comment.

“Our hearts are hurting for the Norton community — especially those who died and are ill, and their families," AARP Kansas State Director Maren Turner said in a statement. “So much more must be done to ensure individuals in all Kansas nursing homes, assisted living communities and home- and community-based settings are protected."

The Andbe Home was flagged by federal officials in a May inspection for lackluster COVID-19 prevention policies. Inspectors observed that “all facility staff, except one, walked up and down the halls, in the dining room, in residents’ rooms and at the nurse’s station [without] a face mask covering.” The inspection concluded that the Andbe Home’s lack of coronavirus infection control strategy placed its residents in “immediate jeopardy.”

Public records indicate the Andbe Home has received more than $316,000 from the federal government since the pandemic began. That money — distributed through the Department of Health and Human Services’ Provider Relief Fund — was intended to support nursing homes during the pandemic and was distributed with relatively few strings attached.

“What did the nursing home facility do to protect residents?” asks Elaine Ryan, vice president for state advocacy and strategy at AARP. “We cannot resign ourselves to the idea that infections and deaths are inevitable.”

The outbreak is a worst-case scenario for any nursing home, as facilities across the country have at times suspended visits and limited group activities during the pandemic to protect vulnerable residents. More than 252,000 nursing home residents have contracted COVID-19 nationally, according to the latest data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. More than 59,000 have died.

An exclusive AARP analysis of federal nursing home data found that 51 percent of Kansas nursing facilities reported a staff shortage between Aug. 24 and Sept. 20. That’s the second-highest mark nationally, barely trailing South Dakota’s 51.1 percent. Separately, AARP’s analysis found that nearly a third of the state’s nursing homes reported having insufficient personal protective equipment (13th highest). Kansas also reported 3.3 nursing home staff infections per 100 residents, ranking 15th nationally.

Coronavirus cases have been climbing in Kansas, as the state reported a record 1,289 new infections on Monday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Over the past week, the state has averaged more than 761 new infections per day — near a record since the pandemic began. Northwestern Kansas, where the Andbe Home is located, has been particularly hard hit.

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