We recognize that everyone is concerned about the risk of contracting Coronavirus (COVID-19). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 is a new disease; and there is limited information regarding risk factors for severe disease. Those who may be at higher risk for more severe complications from COVID-19 include adults age 65 or over; those who reside in a nursing home or long-term care facility; and those with an underlying health condition.
The combination of these factors create a perfect storm for many veterans. Many veterans have been affected by COVID with many facing death.
How much COVID has hit Veteran homes?
A New Jersey nursing home faced one of the worst COVID waves. At the beginning of the outbreak, workers tried to contain the virus by hanging a piece of plastic across hallways. The sheet separating virus patients from people living with dementia soon sagged, according to interviews and photographs. Somebody taped up it’s opening, leaving a gap in the makeshift fortifications.
At veterans’ nursing facilities, there was an additional layer of sorrow. These homes were the last post for American servicemen and women who are no longer able to care for themselves. Haber, an Army corporal who served in Germany during the Korean War, was one of them. He died last month at the age of 91, a victim of the coronavirus.
Veterans homes in 16 states of USA had reported at least one case of the virus per day; after veterans’ COVID testing, said Mark Bowman, president of the National Association of State Veterans Homes. With 157 members, the association supports state veteran’s homes; which receive payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs based on the number of residents.
The number of COVID cases in Veteran homes:
A cluster of three VA facilities in the Chicago area is up to 3,462 cases— the most nationwide — adding 132 in a week.
Veteran’s COVID Cases in the New York City area during the same period rose by 21 to 2,932. Three centers in the Los Angeles area also showed a rise of new cases, with 44 additional, bringing their total to 2,095.
Two VA centers in South Carolina had 2,465 and in Florida had totaled 2,171 cases, adding 62 since Oct. 13.
Problems encountering in Veteran homes:
Some veteran’s homes during COVID have reported shortages of personal protective equipment.
One family was using sanitizer made by a local distillery until they could get more through regular channels.
Most facilities have stopped admitting new residents.
It’s uncertain when states’ veteran’s homes may accept new residents because admissions are currently limited.
While state veterans’ homes are always prepared and stocked for an infectious outbreak, such as the flu, they never accounted for a pandemic of this magnitude. Nursing homes and veteran family’s homes are national epicenters of COVID-19.
Although much of the nation’s focus has been on the surge of COVID-19 cases and deaths in New York and other large cities, the overlooked epicenter of the pandemic is our nation’s nursing homes, veterans’ homes, and other long-term care facilities.
At the end of April, with data available from 30 states, in one-third of them, more than 40% of the statewide COVID-19 deaths were in long-term care facilities. So more or less, it’s an new battleground where veterans during COVID are fighting for their lives against COVID-19.