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COVID-19 Spreading In Nursing Homes Again, This Time In Florida, Texas
Midsection of elderly woman holding hand of nurse. Caregiver is supporting senior female. They are at home during coronavirus lockdown.
Morsa Images via Getty Images

Florida and Texas, the two states leading the current surge of coronavirus infections, are also seeing shocking increases in COVID-19 infections in nursing homes, similar to the increases seen in states affected by the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, like Michigan, New Jersey, and New York.

Politico reports that Florida has seen a 74% increase in “coronavirus cases in the past month despite efforts by Gov. Ron DeSantis to isolate the elderly sick and avoid the kind of catastrophe that hit New York earlier in the pandemic,” and NBC News notes that Texas, where the virus has largely affected people under 35, is seeing its own uptick in nursing home cases.

“Across Texas, nearly 1,000 new infections of nursing home residents were reported in the week ending last Friday, July 10, NBC News found in an analysis of data from the Texas health department,” NBC News reported Thursday. “That’s the highest weekly increase since mid-May when the state began publishing the data, and it reflects record increases last week in the Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth and El Paso regions.”

“Deaths from the virus are also mounting: 1,173 nursing home residents have died in Texas so far, according to state data — including 224 deaths since July 1,” the outlet adds.

Those numbers are still far below those posted by New York, where more than 6,000 nursing home residents died after Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered nursing homes and other adult care facilities to take in recovering coronavirus patients, often without regard for whether those patients remained contagious, and while threatening those facilities that did not take in recovering COVID-19 patients with state action.

In recent weeks, Cuomo has tried to deflect blame for the deaths away from the state policy, suggesting that responsibility for the spike in deaths lies with everyone from President Donald Trump to nursing home workers who provided patient care while sick with the virus themselves. A report from the New York State Department of Health tried to back up Cuomo’s claims but experts largely consider that report flawed, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Florida and Texas, unlike New York, say they’re taking measures to keep the virus out of nursing homes, but that facilities’ elderly population is among the groups most vulnerable to the deadly virus, and workers can, in fact, bring in the virus from outside.

“We’ve done a lot to guard that door, to keep that virus from getting into our facilities,” a Florida official told Politico. “Our staff are human beings who have lives outside of those facilities.”

Patty Ducayet, Texas’ “long-term care ombudsman,” told NBC News that the state is trying to learn from where other states, like New York, went wrong.

“We had an opportunity to avoid what we’re experiencing right now,” she said. “We got this chance to see what other states did, what awful things they were experiencing, so we might be ahead of the crisis. Now I’m bracing for more deaths to come and more cases.”

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