COVID hits Missouri nursing homes again; staff hard hit

nursing home shortage
Posted at 8:08 AM, Jan 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-14 09:08:35-05

ST. LOUIS — COVID-19 infections are rising again in Missouri nursing homes as the highly contagious omicron variant surges.

New data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows cases among nursing home staff ballooned to 1,261, up from a peak of 981 last fall. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the 895 cases among residents still remain below the peak.

And while many nursing homes residents are vaccinated - 87%, in Missouri - just two-thirds of nursing home staff are immunized, lower than any state in the nation.

Still, vaccinated residents are faring relatively well, overall, against COVID-19 during this wave, even when breakthrough cases occur, said Dr. Charles Crecelius, medical director for two area nursing homes and an elder care specialist for BJC Medical Group.

"They're definitely not as sick," Crecelius said.

Nursing homes have contended with staffing shortages throughout the pandemic, but the latest surge has sent yet-unseen numbers of health care workers home due to illness or exposure.

Marjorie Moore, executive director of VOYCE, a south St. Louis County nonprofit that advocates on behalf of nursing home residents, said the group has been fielding more complaints from residents about issues such as unanswered call lights.

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