JACKSONVILLE, Florida – Local long-term care facilities are closely monitoring their residents following a recent increase in COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant.
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra warns the omicron variant is lightning fast and nursing cannot afford a further rise in COVID-19 infections.
“A higher number of COVID-19 cases will likely again have a devastating impact on our loved ones who populate these establishments,” Becerra said.
The long-term care industry had high expectations of visitors over the past two weeks and had COVID-19 protocols in place to protect their residents. But now that the holiday season is over, some establishments are monitoring residents closely to ensure that an outbreak does not occur at the facility.
“We know that these are the most vulnerable population and we know that we just need to redouble our efforts to ensure their safety,” Becerra said.
Health officials believe people who live in healthcare facilities remain at high risk of contracting COVID-19 if people on the outside do not mitigate the spread of the virus.
“Fortunately, we know vaccinations work. That boosters are essential and increase protection for everyone, ”Becerra said. “We are doing everything we can to make sure that vaccines and boosters are available to everyone who qualifies. “
This week’s CDC data shows that more than 80% of residents of reporting agencies are fully immunized, 60% of residents have received a booster injection. 81% of staff are fully immunized, but only 26% have received a booster.
Becerra wants those numbers to improve. He believes that the healthcare workers receiving the booster are making everyone safer inside the facilities.
“We have to change that; we have to make sure that we are ready for omicron in all the particular ways, ”he said.
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