MICHIGAN, USA — AARP of Michigan is urging a health alert after they released data that they call concerning. Officials said COVID-19 cases and deaths among nursing home residents and staff had a sharp increase in December.
The agency added that most residents and staff are still not up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccinations.
AARP, which serves more than 1.2 million Michiganders who are age 50 and older, is urging people, especially those in and around nursing homes to get up-to-date on their vaccines.
According to AARP Michigan, it's estimated that more than 175,000 residents and staff of nursing homes have died from COVID-19.
New data shows there's cause to be concerned.
"COVID-19 cases are increasing in Michigan nursing homes right now, so we're on an upward trend," said Lisa Dedden Cooper, the Manager of Advocacy for AARP Michigan.
"It's been going up now for the last two months, and the other thing that is concerning, is that Michigan continues to lag behind other states and the national average in terms of the number of residents and staff who are up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccines," she said.
According to a release from AARP:
- Cases increased 57% in the four weeks ending Dec. 18, compared to the previous four weeks.
- There was also a 53% increase in staff cases during the same period.
- In Michigan, resident cases are up by 21.5% in the four weeks ending Dec. 18, compared to the previous four weeks, with staff cases up nearly 9% during the same period.
- Nursing home resident deaths nationwide increased by 14% during the four-week period ending Dec. 18 as compared to the four weeks ending Nov. 20.
- Here in Michigan, under half of residents (42.1%) and 13.8% of staff were up-to-date on their vaccinations.
"That's why this is important to us in particular," Dedden Cooper said, "because we can see right now that cases are going up."
"So, we really want to encourage residents and staff in nursing homes to get those vaccines," she said. "And if you are a person who has a loved one living in a nursing home, we want to encourage you to be an active participant and engage with the nursing home where your loved one lives, to be an advocate for that person."
According to AARP Michigan, since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 3,500 of nursing home residents in Michigan have died from the virus, including 46 residents during the four-week period ending Dec. 18.
13 ON YOUR SIDE reached out to the Michigan Department of Health and Human services regarding the data released by AARP. They said the following:
The safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine remains our best defense against the virus, particularly for older adults who may be more vulnerable to COVID-19. Michiganders are urged to get up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines as well as the flu vaccine to prevent the potentially severe consequences of respiratory viruses and to help prevent further burden on our health care system. Paxlovid, the oral antiviral medication, also appears to have continued efficacy against circulating variants, so early therapy for high-risk individuals is still important.
MDHHS and local health departments continue to provide support to long-term care facilities as it pertains to vaccination efforts to ensure residents and staff have access to the vaccine.
In addition, MDHHS is recommending all Michigan families to take steps to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses. This includes:
- Staying home when sick.
- Avoiding close contact with persons who are sick or having both parties wear masks if contact is unavoidable.
- Washing hands frequently.
- Covering coughs and sneezes.
- Cleaning and disinfection of surfaces.
- Having a supply of COVID-19 tests and masks at home.
- Finding out if you are eligible for treatment if you do become unwell.
"We don't have to rely on this anecdotally, but we can look at the data in Michigan and see that the numbers are are lower than they should be," said Dedden Cooper. "They're lower than they could be, and this is a call to action for all of us to help at all the different levels where we can."
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