AARP’s Report Card
South Carolina’s progress has been slow but steady. However, South Carolina nursing homes still have the highest resident COVID-19 infection rates of any state. We have 6.3 infected residents out of every 100 from Jan. 18 to Feb. 14, according to a recent AARP report. Staffing shortages also continue to leave about 20%, or one out of every five, of the state’s nursing facilities short-staffed. Teresa Arnold is the AARP South Carolina state director. She said in a news release:
“One year into the coronavirus pandemic, we continue to see disgracefully high numbers of cases and deaths in South Carolina nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The vaccine rollout gives us hope, but we should not lose sight of the chronic, ongoing problems in our long-term care system that were exposed by COVID.”
Staffing shortages continue to plague nursing homes across the nation. About 15,600 facilities reported the average annual turnover for staff had reached 128%, according to a study published. Some facilities had staff turnover rates higher than 300%. Probably because one out of every 10 facilities did not even have a one-week supply of personal protective equipment on hand in the last month.
South Carolina received federal approval to update visitation guidelines for nursing homes and community residential care facilities. These updated guidelines require facilities to use DHEC’s percent positive by county data to help determine their visitation status. Any facility that meets the following standards must allow in-person, indoor visitation:
a less than or equal to 10 percent positivity rate in the county in which the facility is located, using DHEC’s data, and
no COVID-19 cases among staff and/or residents in the past 14 days, and
maintained CMS’ core principles of COVID-19 infection prevention
More than 61,500 doses of COVID-19 vaccine were given to long-term care facility residents including more than 36,700 doses to the approximately 40,000 caregivers. We are currently in Phases 1A and 1B for the COVID-19 vaccine. This includes frontline workers with increased occupational risk like school staff, daycare workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, law enforcement officers; individuals 55 and older; and those 16-54 with certain high-risk medical conditions.
To determine which phase you are in, visit https://scdhec.gov/covid19/covid-19-vaccine. Visit scdhec.gov/vaxlocator to see the locations accepting vaccination appointments. To register for a DHEC-sponsored clinic, call the vaccine line at 1-866-365-8110 or visit https://cvas.dhec.sc.gov.