DES MOINES — The state reports 980 nursing home residents have died of Covid and a record 118 Iowa nursing homes now have active Covid-19 outbreaks.
Brent Willett is president and CEO of the Iowa Health Care Association, which represents the state’s nursing home industry. He says as Covid cases in communities across the state increase, nursing facilities will experience outbreaks. “You just cannot separate the two,” he says. “It’s like separating smoke from a wildfire.”
The spike in Iowa’s coronavirus infections is also making staffing shortages worse. AARP Iowa is calling on the state to develop a plan to help with staffing and to keep the virus out of facilities. Brad Anderson is the state director for AARP. “We have 43% of Iowa nursing homes across the state reporting a workforce shortage,” Anderson says. “That is well above the national average of 28% and so until we deal with the workforce shortage, we’re going to have a very difficult time containing the virus.”
New state guidelines say nursing homes may — as a last resort – have Covid-positive staff care for residents, if the staff wear proper protective equipment.