Omicron surge puts long-term care facilities on high alert

Getting the booster shot to staff members at long-term facilities isn't moving as fast as some health experts were hoping. This comes as Florida, Georgia, and other states around the U.S. see a big increase in Covid cases.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Local long-term care facilities are keeping a close eye on their residents following a recent surge in COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant.

The United States Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Service, Xavier Becerra, warns that the omicron variant is lightning fast and that nursing can’t afford another surge in COVID-19 infections.

“Higher numbers of COVID-19 cases will likely once again have a devastating impact on our loved ones who are populating in these facilities,” Becerra said.

The long-term care industry expected lots of visitors the past couple of weeks and had COVID-19 protocols in place to protect their residents. But now that the holiday season is over, some facilities are closely monitoring residents to ensure an outbreak doesn’t happen within the facility.

“We know that this is the most vulnerable population and we know we just have to work double as hard to keep them safe,” Becerra said.

Health officials believe people who live in care facilities remain at high risk of contracting COVID-19 if people on the outside don’t mitigate the spread of the virus.

“Thankfully, we know that vaccinations work. That boosters are critical, and they increase everyone’s protection,” Becerra said. “We’re doing everything we can to make sure the vaccines and boosters are available to everyone who qualify.”

CDC data from this week shows that more than 80% of residents at reporting agencies are fully vaccinated, 60% of residents have received a booster shot. 81% of staff are fully vaccinated, but only 26% have received a booster shot.

Becerra wants these numbers to improve. He believes that care staff getting the booster shot makes everyone safer inside the facilities.

“We got to change that; we have to make sure we’re ready for omicron in every particular way,” he said.

About the Authors:

A Florida-born, Emmy Award winning journalist and proud NC A&T SU grad