Coronavirus puts nursing homes in 'nearly impossible' position

'Nursing homes have become an accelerator for the virus'

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Ill-equipped nursing homes are rapidly falling prey to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a daily surge in new cases among their vulnerable populations.

While the facilities have been in lockdown for weeks under federal orders to protect residents from the fast-spreading virus, bans on visitors and daily screenings of staffers haven't prevented fresh infections.

"Nursing homes have become an accelerator for the virus because residents, who are generally vulnerable to complications from the virus, are even more so in an enclosed environment like a nursing home," the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said.

Within a 24-hour span, one Maryland nursing home saw cases rise from one confirmed case to more than 64, CMS said, adding that it's only one of hundreds of facilities nationwide with spikes in confirmed cases. A shortage of protective gear and other supplies only complicates matters.

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The agency is urging state and local leaders to consider the needs of long-term care facilities, which serve the elderly and infirm, when allocating such equipment.

A resident from St. Joseph's Senior Home is loaded into a bus in Woodbridge, N.J., Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

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It's "nearly impossible to contain the spread of the virus" at nursing homes without the correct gear, Scott La Rue, the CEO of Archcare, told FOX Business.

On Sunday, Archcare, which runs five facilities with more than 1,700 beds, received a supply of 1,000 masks and equal numbers of face shields and gowns -- a far cry from the 28,000 of each item requested.

The lack of supplies has forced organizations such as Archcare "to search globally, with significant risk of fraud and price-gouging" to obtain critical supplies for staff and patients, La Rue said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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