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Ohio nursing homes face shortages of protective gear as COVID-19 cases increase

1 in 5 Ohio facilities face critical shortages
Posted at 4:16 PM, Oct 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-29 19:10:59-04

CLEVELAND — Ohio's long-term care facilities are facing critical shortages of vital protective equipment as COVID-19 cases increase across the state.

It's a crisis shared by long term care facilities nationwide, according to both the American Health Care Association as well as a recent study just released by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group,

The U.S. PIRG report reveals:

  • One in five facilities were dangerously low on one or more items, like gloves and hand sanitizer.
  • Forty-six percent of all nursing homes nationwide reported at some point this summer that they did not have a one-week supply of least one type of PPE.

Here in Ohio, we crunched data collected by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. We found, as of October 11:

  • 168 Ohio nursing homes had less than a week supply of N-95 masks
  • 87 had less than a week of gowns
  • 71 had less than a week of surgical masks
  • 30 had less than a week of hand sanitizer

Meanwhile, data we analyzed regarding COVID-19 cases and residents testing positive in nursing homes reveals an alarming trend.

We found cases among residents began increasing — up more than 100 — since the last week of September, when 291 tested positive.

By the week ending October 11, those figures rose to 396 testing positive in a single week.

The shortage is being fueled by a nationwide surge in the coronavirus.

"There is a shortage," says Peter Van Runkle, who heads up the Ohio Health Care Association that represents long-term care facilities in Ohio. "Particularly of the N-95 masks that are the critical ones to wear when you're dealing with someone who has COVID or someone whose status is unknown."

Peter Van Runkle
Peter Van Runkle, Ohio Health Care Association

Van Runkle says the rise in cases in long term care facilities is tied to the surge of cases across Ohio communities.

Van Runkle says his association is working with both state and federal officials to identify additional supplies of protective equipment as well as seeking additional funding for the upcoming year.

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