The Saint Louis County Department of Public Health has compiled a new report showing growing spread of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities. The trends point to an ongoing emergency affecting some of the county’s most vulnerable residents.
Long-term care (or LTC) is a category that includes skilled nursing, assisted living and residential care facilities. These communities have been hard-hit since the beginning of the pandemic, in part because of the close living quarters, advanced age and fragile health of many residents.
In November, 913 LTC residents were diagnosed with COVID-19, making it the worst month so far for new infections. This figure is up from 276 new cases in October.
DPH believes the sharp increase is due almost entirely to the explosive growth in transmission of the disease in the community. In fact, the proportion of the county’s COVID-19 patients who are LTC residents has actually gone down a bit from October to November. LTC residents accounted for about 9% of cumulative STLCO cases at the end of October, and at the end of November they accounted for about 7% of cumulative STLCO cases.
As of Dec. 3,113 of the 144 LTC facilities in the county have reported at least one case of COVID-19 since March. A total of 3,762 LTC residents have been diagnosed so far in the pandemic, and 593 of those individuals have lost their lives to the disease. This amounts to a 15.8% fatality rate, meaning that LTC residents, once diagnosed, are far more likely than the general public to die from the disease. COVID-19 deaths among the LTC population represent 57.3% of the county’s death toll.
More complete data, including case counts for individual facilities, is available in the full report, which can be found at stlcorona.com (click the “COVID-19 Stats” button.) Keep in mind that numbers reported are cumulative totals reported since March and may not reflect the current number of active cases.
DPH continues to work closely with these facilities to ensure that their staff and residents have the resources, testing, and guidance necessary to protect themselves against COVID-19. The department recognizes that safety restrictions have been difficult for LTC residents and their loved ones, but with case counts rising, preventing the spread of disease remains critical as ever. Current protocols for safely visiting people in LTC can be found here.