TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Nursing homes have seen COVID numbers decline among residents by 82% since December, according to a national report.
Arizona nursing homes have also seen a drop in COVID cases. Last week, the CDC reported three cases per 1,000 people, compared to a peak of 36 cases per 1,000 people in mid-December. Dana Marie Kennedy, the state director of AARP Arizona, said the decline is likely an indication the vaccines are working.
“I feel great now that our skilled nursing facilities have been fully vaccinated and our assisted living facilities, I believe 75% have had their first dose,” she said.
She’s hopeful Arizona is at a turning point. As cases drop, care facility visitor restrictions can also ease up.
“Our visitation guidelines say each resident has two essential visitors,” Kennedy said. “That essential visitor is supposed to test as frequently as they’re testing the staff.”
Karen McWilliams, a caregiver in Arizona, is pleased to see loved ones reunite after witnessing the toll of isolation.
“These people become part of our family in a sense and to see them be so sad,” McWilliams said. “You have to really watch what you say because you don’t want to make things worse for them.”
McWilliams and those she cares for are looking to the future with much more optimism.
“Some of them do have family that’s coming out when the school year is technically over and things like that. That’s a positive for them. A few have talked about getting a dog. Whatever makes them happy,” she said.
The national report, released by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), found deaths in nursing homes have declined 63% since December.