RALEIGH – A lot of people with at least two working brain cells have pointed out that prioritizing the protection of the vulnerable may be a better policy than top-down, blanket Pandemic Panic restrictions for every person or business in the state. In the case of the novel coronavirus that means the elderly; particularly those in nursing homes and assisted living facilities where nearly half of North Carolina’s COVID-19 related deaths have come from.
Yet, while Governor Roy Cooper is fond of micromanaging your life, mandating you wear a mask, arbitrarily snuffing out certain businesses with continued mandated closures, and actively considering stifling education with school restrictions, his administration has still not developed a plan to protect the very people most at risk from the disease.
“In North Carolina, nursing home residents make up almost half of all coronavirus deaths in the state, the latest data show. And there have been reported outbreaks at some 40% of the state’s more than 400 nursing homes.
Yet four months into the pandemic, North Carolina still lacks a plan for regular testing in those facilities, where COVID-19 has hit hardest.
State officials now recommend nursing homes test staff every other week, half as often as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services advise, though federal guidelines give state and local officials leeway to adjust based on the local prevalence of the virus. At least some states have adopted plans for following the guidelines, but North Carolina has not. […]
Especially now that community spread of the coronavirus is widespread in North Carolina, medical researchers are concerned that staff have a greater chance of bringing COVID-19 into nursing homes, where the state’s most vulnerable residents live.
This makes it particularly important that nursing home workers in communities with a rising number of infections are tested repeatedly, experts say, but North Carolina has opted for a focus on infection prevention rather than routine testing. […]”
If you are scratching your head, thinking, ‘I thought the focus was on preventing the overcrowding of hospitals?‘; you’re not alone.
The goal posts have been moved from the prudent (temporary pauses to avoid overwhelming vulnerable health care systems), to the nonsensical (preventing new infections).
The latter CANNOT be achieved. Short of locking every single person up in a negative pressure hospital suite, we WILL NOT stop an infectious virus from infecting more people.
It is not a feasible goal, but that hasn’t stopped the Cooper administration from holding up such a goal to justify it’s painfully slow reopening process and even possibly hindering education in a high cost/zero benefit closure, or modification, of public school instruction.
Meanwhile, the goals they should have been focusing on first and foremost; the goals, if achieved, that would save the most lives BY FAR; seem to have fallen by the wayside.
For crying out loud, with all the focus on daily updates to ‘confirmed cases,’ the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is not even tracking how often nursing home staff in North Carolina have been tested.
“[…] It’s unclear how often nursing home staff in North Carolina have been tested. Few nursing homes responded to a survey by the North Carolina Watchdog Reporting Network and the state Department of Health and Human Services has not been tracking that information to date.
DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said last month, “My understanding right now is if they do not have any cases, they are not doing proactive testing.” […]”
It’s worth reiterating that these are the people that are THE MOST VULNERABLE to COVID-19; they make up about HALF OF ALL DEATHS; and, there’s no plan for mass testing.
But you cannot gather with a bunch of healthy friends for a barbecue on Independence Day, or open your business, or send your (not vulnerable at all) kids to school.
It does cost money to perform tests. It is expensive. But it might have been less than the cost of 1 million North Carolinians losing their jobs by forcing a one-size-fits-none lockdown on everyone in the state for months.
Read more about the Cooper administration’s costly (deadly) fumble here.