Detroit Free Press
After more than a week of testing, Detroit officials say they are finding about a quarter of the residents and staff at the city’s nursing homes are infected with COVID-19, with about half of them asymptomatic.
Detroit plans to publicly release detailed information on the impact the virus has had on individual nursing homes after testing at all the city’s facilities is completed this week.
As coronavirus deaths at Michigan nursing homes continue to soar, the state health department also announced Tuesday it plans to report nursing home names and how many COVID-19 cases there are at each facility later this week.
In Detroit, officials expect to finish quick testing at the city’s nursing homes Thursday.
“Our intention is to give a full report on Monday listing each of the nursing homes, the infection rates and what we know about deaths that originated from them,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said. “Assuming the state of Michigan doesn’t order us not to, our intention is to give you a full report on all 26 nursing homes on Monday.”
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan during a live news conference on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. (Photo: City of Detroit)
So far, nearly 1,300 residents and staff at nursing homes in the city have been tested and the infection rate is about 26%, said Denise Fair, chief public health officer at the Detroit Health Department. There have been 124 COVID-19-related deaths among residents and staff.
“We’re finding almost as many asymptomatic nursing home patients who had COVID-19 as those who were showing symptoms,” Duggan said.
He said the reason there are so many nursing home deaths across the country is many people have the virus and don’t show symptoms.
A Detroit Free Press investigation published April 12 found that there have been hundreds of confirmed coronavirus cases among residents and staff and dozens of deaths linked to nursing homes in Michigan.
Since then, the number of cases in metro Detroit has continued to rapidly increase. In some areas, deaths linked to facilities in Michigan are about six times greater than they were less than two weeks ago.
In Macomb County, there are 46 facilities with COVID-19 cases, 332 confirmed cases and 128 deaths, spokesman Dan Heaton said. Facilities include nursing homes, long-term care facilities, skilled nursing facilities, memory facilities and assisted living centers.In Oakland County, there are about 200 senior living facilities and of those, 127 have had COVID-19 cases, county spokesman Bill Mullan said. There have been 1,038 confirmed cases among residents and staff and 146 deaths linked to facilities as of Monday, he said.Wayne County did not have updated numbers Tuesday. As of April 10, there had been 94 deaths of nursing homes residents who tested positive for COVID-19, a spokesman said. Wayne County’s numbers don’t include Detroit cases.
So far, no statewide data has been publicly made available on nursing homes, and names of facilities heavily impacted by the virus have not been released by most local health departments in Michigan.
Last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order aimed at protecting residents and staff at long-term care facilities. Those include nursing homes, homes for the aged, adult foster care facilities and assisted living facilities.
Long-term care facilities across Michigan must now submit daily reports to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Facilities are required to provide information on the current number of COVID-19 cases and deaths within their buildings, inventory of personal protective equipment and current bed availability, the state health department said in a news release.
“My understanding is that we will be reporting information on the website sometime this week,” Michigan health department spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin said in an email Monday. “I don’t have complete info on what will be reported and when, but I know there are plans to list the facilities.”
She said Tuesday night the state will be providing nursing home names and the number of COVID-19 cases at individual facilities later this week. She said she didn’t have additional information.
Some families told the Free Press they are getting information from facilities about the total number of COVID-19 cases. Other families said they don’t know how many cases are in facilities housing loved ones but would like that information.
Outbreaks have ravaged nursing homes throughout the United States. Some states have released names of facilities with COVID-19 cases, including Minnesota and Florida.
In Connecticut, the state released names of nursing homes, the number of residents that tested positive and the number of COVID-19 related deaths among residents, according to news reports. Last week, New York officials provided the names of dozens of long-term care facilities with five or more deaths.
In Michigan, transparency “has been a huge challenge in nursing homes,” said Kevin Lignell, spokesman for Service Employees International Union Healthcare Michigan.
He said he hopes the new executive order will bring the release of more information. Some homes have been good about providing information about the virus and others have not.
“Some are still not admitting they have it in their home,” he said.
Free Press staff writer Kristi Tanner contributed to this report.
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Detroit Free Press