Nursing homes were one of the first places to feel COVID-19’s wrath, but now, they are one of the first places to feel the positive effects of the vaccine.
Cases in nursing homes across the country have dropped tremendously over the last few months after peaking the week of December 20, 2020, when there were more than 30,000 new cases, according to data from the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living.
Between December 20, 2020, and February 14, 2021, the organizations say COVID-19 cases among nursing home staff fell 83 percent, from 28,802 to 4,746. New COVID-19 infections among residents fell even more, going from 89 percent to 58 percent in the general public.
“It did, it helped the morale. It helped the depression, it helped the anxiety, and it did make it more comfortable for me,” said Bee Koellner, who lives in a long-term care facility in Colorado.
“Seeing that number decline just has taken some load off and allowed us to take a breath here or there to continue on,” said Ben Gonzales, administrator for Fairacres Manor in Greeley, Colorado.
Gonzales says 75 percent of nursing home residents are fully vaccinated, which has allowed for visitors, group meetings, and bingo: all things that were canceled for most of 2020 while the facility tried to minimize risk to its residents.
"I would like for somebody to come up and give me a hug,” said Sharon Peterson, who also lives at Fairacres Manor. “When I’m having a bad day, I like to tell them, 'come here,' and have them come over and give them a hug. I like those days.”
Gonzales says he is not sure if true “normal” will return to his nursing home, but he says the positivity that has returned since cases have dropped is a welcome sight helping its residents.