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We appreciate the federal government's push to help the states, including Missouri, with an influx of COVID-19 cases in nursing homes.

Unfortunately, it's too little, too late for some nursing homes, but we're hopeful the help can prevent bad situations from getting worse.

Here in Jefferson City, an outbreak at Jefferson City Manor has infected 68 people and killed three. More than half of the residents and 29 staff members are among those who have contracted the virus.

The nursing home's parent company, JMS Senior Living, said it has screened residents and staff daily since March.

Gov. Mike Parson said 468 long-term care facilities in the state have had at least one case of COVID-19 among residents, staff or both.

Parson and his staff on Tuesday hosted Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, who said the federal government is rushing personal protective equipment to nursing homes and increasing testing. That will continue, she said, "until every nursing home has the ability to test their staff weekly."

Nursing homes across the nation have been taking steps to combat the virus, but it hasn't been enough.

More than 3,400 nursing homes in the U.S. have been cited for noncompliance with infection-control requirements and/or failure to report COVID-19 data, the Pennsylvania Health Care Association said. Marketwatch.com reported the U.S. has had the highest number of deaths in nursing homes in the world and has one of the highest rates of COVID-related nursing-home deaths per capita.

USA Today on Wednesday said COVID-19 infections have reached an all-time high. An analysis of federal data shows 9,715 COVID-19 cases during the week of July 26, the most recent data available, the paper reported.

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So while we appreciate the state and federal government's increase in PPE and testing for nursing homes, it's not enough.

One method that shows promise is "strike teams" of medical workers, emergency responders and clergy that can replace sick staff members. Among other things, they set up oxygen and IV drips, to avoid sending residents with milder illness to overburdened hospitals, the New York Times has reported.

Nursing homes exist to take care of people in their senior years. But the pandemic has turned them into some of the most dangerous places to be in the country.

Nursing homes and government entities say they've stepped up their fight against the virus. But obviously, more needs to be done.

News Tribune

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