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AARP: During Omicron Surge, Ensure Nursing Home Residents are Safe

Female doctor consoling senior woman wearing face mask during ho
Frances Coridolfi
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Adobe Stock
According to data from Wisconsin's Department of Health Services, COVID-19 cases peaked on Jan. 16 with more than 38,500 confirmed cases.

As Wisconsin pushes through the Omicron surge, AARP is urging people to ensure their loved ones in assisted living facilities are protected.

According to AARP's COVID-19 dashboard, nearly 60% of the state's nursing-home residents have been fully vaccinated and boosted as of mid-December.

Helen Marks Dicks, state issues advocacy director for AARP Wisconsin, encouraged families to learn more about how their loved ones' facilities are handling vaccinating and boosting residents and staff.

"So what is the current status? Are they getting vaccinations to all their residents and those already vaccinated? Are they getting them the booster?" Marks Dicks suggested. "And are they doing the screening and testing to make sure that they're in line with the government regulations about nursing homes?"

AARP has released a series of recommended questions people can ask to learn about how their loved ones' facilities are handling COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported more than 800 COVID-19 cases among Wisconsin's nursing-home residents for the two-week period ending last Sunday, the highest number in more than a year.

According to AARP, as of mid-December, about 22% of Wisconsin's nursing-home direct care staff had been vaccinated and boosted.

Marks Dicks pointed out with the recent ruling from the Supreme Court on the federal government's health care worker vaccine mandate, the number will likely rise significantly in the coming weeks.

"The feds said that if you're receiving Medicare or Medicaid money, that you have to follow the guidelines they set up," Marks Dicks explained.

According to the American Hospital Association, the deadline for those workers to be fully vaccinated is Feb. 28. Overall, new COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin have declined since Jan. 19, but are still higher than they were for most of 2021.

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