Those who care for some of the most COVID-19 vulnerable still not fully vaccinated

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The vaccination rates for those who care for some of the people most vulnerable to COVID-19 cracked 60% this month, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services report for Aug.19.

The vaccination rate for the staff in South Dakota nursing homes is 61.24% as of Aug. 9.

Meanwhile, 93.92% of the residents have been vaccinated.

The staff vaccination rate is still higher than the 16 and older rate for the state, which is 55.46%.

The rate of vaccinated staff has slogged on since March when Daniel Bucheli, the communications director for the South Dakota Department of Health, said the agency identified that 55% of the state’s long-term care staff as vaccinated.

At the same time, the number of COVID-19 cases, including those identified as the Delta variant has started to climb in the state.

In the four weeks prior to July 18, COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes accounted for 8% of all deaths in the state, according to AARP.

From January of 2020 until August 8, 2021, there have been 733 COVID-19 deaths of nursing home residents, according to CMS.

There have been 2,698 confirmed cases in residents.

While accounting for only 2% of all cases in the state, nursing homes deaths make up 36% of all COVID-19 deaths in the state, according to AARP. This is data from January 2020 to July 18, 2021.

Nationwide, there have been 133,736 COVID-19 deaths in nursing home residents, according to the CMS. There have been 667,659 cases.

In addition, 2,004 staff have died from COVID-19, according to the CMS. And 602,330 staff have had COVID-19.

President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday, August 18, that he would direct the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop new regulations that would require employees of nursing homes that use Medicare and Medicaid to be vaccinated.

Medicare and Medicaid are the insurance plans that cover many nursing home residents. Nursing homes receive those insurance reimbursements for services.

Medicaid covers six in 10 nursing home residents in the U.S., according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

In 2015, 3,252 South Dakota nursing home residents were covered by Medicaid, according to KFF. That equaled 52% of the nursing home population.

A June 21 report from the U.S. Health and Human Services said that two of five Medicare beneficiaries in nursing homes were diagnosed with COVID-19 or likely to have had COVID-19 in 2020.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for Medicare beneficiaries in nursing homes,” the report said.

About 3.1 million Medicare beneficiaries were nursing home residents in 2020, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services report. Forty-two percent of those residents or 1.3 million had or likely had COVID-19.

The CMS would issue the new vaccine requirement. It could be effective as soon as September.

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