As the number of new COVID-19 deaths and cases continues to decline statewide in Connecticut, new state data show that more than 80% of the deaths over the past week have been patients at nursing homes.
Another 106 nursing home patients died of either confirmed or probable cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus since last week out of only 131 total deaths during the same time period, public health data released Thursday showed.
Both totals are down significantly week over week, but the high percentage of new nursing home deaths underscores the virus’ lingering impact on Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens.
Through Wednesday, 2,648 nursing home patients have died since the pandemic began — more than 64% of the total number of deaths — and another 349 residents of assisted living facilities have died, the data show.
A half-dozen nursing home facilities have now recorded more than 40 deaths and another half-dozen facilities are not far behind, with reported deaths rising to 36 or more.
Riverside Health and Rehabilitation Center in East Hartford reported one new death over the past week, bringing its total to 60, the most of any nursing home in the state, the data show. Riverside is the third largest affected facility in the state with a capacity for 345 patients and, in addition to those deaths, another 152 residents have tested positive so far.
Arden House in Hamden has reported the next highest number of deaths at 47 total through Wednesday, including five new deaths over the past week, the data show.
Abbott Terrace Health Center in Waterbury and Kimberly Hall North in Windsor, a pair of the earliest and hardest hit homes in the state, each have recorded 45 deaths.
Assisted living facilities, which have been impacted much less severely than their larger nursing home counterparts, reported only 12 new deaths over the past week. Ridgefield Crossings, where officials discovered one of the first COVID-19 cases and deaths in early March, has recorded 26 deaths and remains the most affected assisted living facility by far.
New positive COVID-19 cases have slowed dramatically at nursing homes, however, even as officials have ramped up testing in recent weeks and instituted regular mandatory testing last week.
Just three weeks ago the state was reporting almost 1,000 new cases among nursing home patients, but that number dropped to just 152 new positive tests over the past week. Yet as total deaths statewide have declined, nursing home patients have made up an increasingly larger portion of the weekly totals as those who have been fighting COVID-19 for weeks succumb to the virus and its complications.
Earlier this week Lamont ordered a “top-to-bottom” independent review of both the preparation and response to the pandemic at nursing home and assisted living facilities in Connecticut, acknowledging they are the “tragic center” of the COVID-19 crisis.
Despite the virus’ dire spread through these facilities, Lamont and state officials have defended their early steps to protect nursing homes, including the delivery of millions of units of PPE for providers and $125 million in support. Connecticut also was among the first states to eliminate visitations at nursing homes in March, restrictions that have only just begun to relax this week.
Those lessons and recommendations from the independent review should help the state better contain the virus should it return later this year, officials said.
“I think this an opportunity to learn, right?” Josh Geballe, the state’s chief operating officer, said Monday. “What we did right, what we can do better, preparing both for a second wave and looking longer term.”