From the Detroit Free Press
Nursing home residents account for 34% of Michigan's COVID-19-related deaths, according to newly released data from the state.
The deaths of 1,947 nursing home residents and 20 employees at facilities across Michigan were COVID-19-related, the state health department reported Monday, as it released data on deaths associated with individual nursing homes for the first time since the pandemic hit Michigan three months ago.
All nursing home residents and staff must be tested under a new order from the Department of Health and Human Services as officials announced Monday.
Overall, there have been 7,163 confirmed cases of the coronavirus among nursing home residents and 3,133 confirmed cases among staff. The majority of resident deaths connected to nursing homes — 72% — have been in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties.
According to the state, the number of deaths reported includes confirmed and suspected cases.
The health department on Monday announced requirements for testing of residents and staff members at nursing homes.
"Every person who lost their life to COVID-19 was unique and irreplaceable," state health department director Robert Gordon said during a media call on Monday. "We grieve for them all. Looking forward, all we can do is to be honest about what has happened and fiercely committed in reducing further loss of life in every way we can."
Every person who lost their life to COVID-19 was unique and irreplaceable. We grieve for them all. Looking forward, all we can do is to be honest about what has happened and fiercely committed in reducing further loss of life in every way we can
Gordon on Monday issued an order with testing requirements for nursing facilities, including initial testing of all residents and staff; testing of new or returning residents during intake unless tested within the last 72 hours; testing of residents and staff members with symptoms or suspected exposure, and weekly testing of residents and staff in facilities with positive cases until 14 days after the last new positive case.
The order also requires weekly testing of staff in regions designated by the state as being medium or higher risk.
AARP Michigan State Director Paula Cunningham said the group strongly supports the testing mandated outlined for nursing homes.
"The sad fate of so many older adults in long-term care facilities is both heartbreaking and infuriating," she said. "Setting up and implementing a comprehensive plan for testing of staff and residents is among the essential steps necessary to overturn this abject tragedy."
According to the order, nursing homes have to submit plans for testing by June 22, including requesting assistance from the state if needed, and begin implementing those plans by June 29. According to the order, failure to comply could result in civil fines.
Nursing homes are also required to continue reporting of required data, including on confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases, deaths, staffing shortages, testing and supplies of personal protective equipment.
The AARP supports the testing mandate, Paula D. Cunningham, AARP state director, said in a news release.
"The sad fate of so many older adults in long-term care facilities is both heartbreaking and infuriating," she is quoted saying in the news release. "Setting up and implementing a comprehensive plan for testing of staff and residents is among the essential steps necessary to overturn this abject tragedy."
Michigan has had 5,772 deaths overall attributed to the coronavirus and more than 60,000 confirmed cases as of Monday.
Nursing homes in metro Detroit have been hit especially hard — there have been 377 deaths of nursing home residents in Macomb County, 307 in Oakland County and 710 in Wayne County, which includes cases in Detroit, according to state data.
According to information released by the state health department, five nursing homes reported more than 30 resident deaths related to COVID-19 since the outbreak began.
- 43 deaths at Ambassador, A Villa Center in Detroit.
- 41 at The Manor of Novi — a statistic the state noted is "subject to additional validation."
- 38 at Advantage Living Center – Warren
- 35 at Autumn Woods Residential Health in Warren
- 32 at Regency Heights Nursing Center Detroit
Representatives from some of those facilities could not be reached for comment Monday evening.
According to an emailed statement from Villa Healthcare, the number of COVID-19-related deaths being reported by the state at Ambassador, a Villa Center, is wrong. The statement says: “While the definition of a COVID death has varied a lot from state to state and region to region, we have not had 43 deaths to our knowledge. Unfortunately, we have had 17 recorded deaths. Ambassador, a Villa Center and its staff are mourning the loss.”
Advantage Living Centers co-owner Kelsey Hastings said the team at the Warren location "worked hand in hand with state health officials to manage residents who contracted and/or were admitted with COVID-19." She said most residents passed away at the hospital.
"We were saddened by each resident who died as a result of or due to complications of this terrible disease," Hastings said.