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COVID-19 cases, deaths soar again at US nursing homes

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-01-18 09:31

People wearing face masks walk on a street in Sonoma County, California, on Jan 12, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

WASHINGTON -- COVID-19 cases at US nursing homes are rising to another peak amid the Omicron surge across the country, according to latest data of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Nursing homes reported a near-record of over 32,000 COVID-19 cases among residents in the week ending Jan 9, an almost sevenfold increase from a month earlier, according to CDC data.

The new weekly increase of nursing home COVID-19 cases marks the highest since the week ending in Dec 20, 2020 when over 32,000 cases were reported.

A total of 645 COVID-19-related deaths among nursing home residents were reported during the same week, over 30 percent increase from the week before. Health experts are concerned that deaths may continue to rise as the Omicron variant is spreading rapidly across the country.

Nursing home officials are responding to the surge by limiting visitors, reinstituting social distancing, and pushing more residents and staff members to get vaccinated and boosted.

Nursing home residents were hit the hardest since the onset of the pandemic in the country. In December 2020, nursing home deaths per week topped out at about 6,200.

Experts said high vaccination rates among nursing home residents have offered strong protection to this age group.

As of Jan 13, 95 percent of people ages 65 years or older in the country have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 87.9 percent are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.

The recent COVID-19 surge in the United States driven by the highly infectious Omicron variant is leading to record high cases, hospitalizations, and critical shortages of healthcare staffs.

The country is now averaging nearly 800,000 new COVID-19 cases each day and nearly 1,800 new deaths each day, up significantly week by week, according to latest CDC data.

Some colleges across the country went remote again as students return to school after winter breaks, in order to avoid increasing infections on campus.

US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said Sunday the next few weeks will be tough.

"The challenge is that the entire country is not moving at the same pace," Murthy said in an interview with CNN. "The Omicron wave started later in other parts of the country. We shouldn't expect a national peak in the coming days."

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