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Stories, Stats, Impacts: Wyoming Public Media is here to keep you current on the news surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

Almost Half Of State's Coronavirus-Related Deaths Are Resident Of Long Term Care Facilities

stux (pixabay.com)

As of Thursday, November 12, almost half of Wyoming's coronavirus-related deaths were residents of a long-term care facility. That's according to a report by AARP, a non-profit dedicated to the wellbeing of people over 50. 

AARP long expected the pandemic to affect nursing homes at a much higher rate. So it started the dashboard as a way to keep states informed.

The nonprofit joined forces with Miami University in Ohio to provide four-week snapshots of COVID-19's impact on nursing homes residents and staff. Facilities in Wyoming are experiencing shortages in staff and personal protective equipment and are seeing a spike in fatalities. 

In the most recent Wyoming-specific report, 44 percent of the state's virus related deaths were residents of a long-term care facility. This is slightly higher than the national percentage of 40 percent. 

AARP Wyoming Director Sam Shumway said the trend doesn’t look good in the state. Staff shortages have seen a huge spike. 

"Strained nursing home staff or shortages of nursing home staff, are just like in hospitals," said Shumway. "When you have a very vulnerable population, that results in some pretty bad outcomes."

Shumway said he's not sure if the federal money the governor just allocated for additional personnel includes nursing homes. But he hopes he and other policymakers take a hard look at this data and make sure there is adequate staffing at these facilities across the state.

The dashboard provides a five-point plan that states should follow in regards to long-term care facilities in an effort to keep the virus’s impact minimal, including transparency. Shumway said Wyoming needs to work at being better at that.

"These nursing homes, they don't want to tell the world that they've had an outbreak in our nursing home, right. But we need to, we need that level of transparency, and they need to report it to the Department of Health immediately," said Shumway. "So that whatever measures can be taken to help support and protect those facilities can be done."

The other points include regular and ongoing testing, ensure access to family and loved ones, either virtually or in-person, ensure quality of care through adequate staffing and oversight, and reject immunity for long term care facilities related to COVID-19.

Kamila has worked for public radio stations in California, New York, France and Poland. Originally from New York City, she loves exploring new places. Kamila received her master in journalism from Columbia University. She has won a regional Murrow award for her reporting on mental health and firearm owners. During her time leading the Wyoming Public Media newsroom, reporters have won multiple PMJA, Murrow and Top of the Rockies Excellence in Journalism Awards. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the surrounding areas with her two pups and husband.

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