More than a fifth of America's 31,600 coronavirus deaths have been linked to nursing homes, according to new analysis by The New York Times. Since the country's outbreak began in a nursing home outside of Seattle, some 6,900 deaths have occurred either in, or in connection to, such facilities, a number that is "far higher than previously known," the Times writes.
"They're death pits," said former New York Lieutenant Governor Betsy McCaughey, who founded a nonprofit aimed at stopping hospital-acquired infections. "These nursing homes are already overwhelmed. They're crowded and they're understaffed. One COVID-positive patient in a nursing home produces carnage."
Earlier this week, an anonymous tip led to the discovery of 17 bodies stored in the four-person morgue of a New Jersey nursing home. Eight of the people had died in a single day, bringing the total to 68 people to have died of COVID-19 in the center so far. "Once one person in the home gets sick it spreads pretty quickly in nursing homes," New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer told NBC News.
Judith Regan, whose 91-year-old father lives at the Long Island State Veterans Home at Stony Brook University, told the Times that "he is on the Titanic, but there are no lifeboats." Mark Parkinson, the president of the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living, echoed the sentiment. "The cavalry hasn't arrived," he said, adding: "People will end up blaming nursing homes and talking about how terrible we are, but it is the complete lack of prioritization that has put us in the position that we are in."
To date, more than 36,000 nursing home residents and employees are known to have contracted COVID-19, the Times reports. Read why Matthew Walther says we need to rethink nursing homes, here at The Week.