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Deadly COVID-19 outbreaks in Colorado nursing homes

More than 24,000 cases of COVID-19 are tied to active outbreaks at senior care facilities, according to data from state health officials.

COLORADO, USA — COVID-19 is sweeping through Colorado nursing homes and other senior care facilities leading to the deadliest outbreaks in the state since spring. 

There are 200 outbreaks tied to senior care facilities, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). 

“I think we’re back in this situation where we’ve seen outbreaks increasing in Colorado because people let their guard down on following good, solid public health guidelines," said Doug Farmer, president of the Colorado Health Care Association.

For nine months, residents at Colorado nursing homes have dealt with isolation, loneliness and COVID-19 outbreaks.

“In these areas where you have incredibly high rates of community spread of the virus, you’re seeing the same kind of spread into the nursing homes in those communities," Farmer said.

CPDHE data show senior care facilities account for 23% of confirmed cases in all active outbreaks. However, outbreaks at those facilities led to 94% of the 319 deaths attributed to active outbreaks.

Credit: KUSA

“We know that the virus has the most significant impacts on the elderly and people with underlying health conditions and the average age of a nursing home resident in Colorado is over 85," Farmer said. 

The deadliest active outbreak in the state involves Brookside Inn, a skilled nursing facility in Castle Rock where 23 people have died since illnesses were determined to be an outbreak on Oct. 16, according to CPDHE data. Ninety-four residents and 79 staff members at the facility have confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Staff members at senior care facilities account for 2,398 confirmed cases in all active outbreaks. Farmer said the spread is hard to control when staff members go home and unknowingly come back with COVID-19.

“People are still walking around asymptomatic," Farmers said. "When you have people walking around that don’t exhibit any symptoms of having the virus and maybe contracted in between testing periods, they’re still going to be the opportunity for spread.”

Farmer said community spread must slow down before nursing homes and other senior care facilities see relief.

“I do think that we’re just going to have to continue to struggle through this for the foreseeable future," he said.

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