Wyoming COVID-19 Nursing Home Deaths Highest in Country | Wyoming News – Community News
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Wyoming COVID-19 Nursing Home Deaths Highest in Country | Wyoming News

Wyoming nursing homes are leading the nation in COVID-19 cases and related deaths, according to new data from the AARP.

Nearly nine per 100 Wyoming long-term care residents contracted COVID-19 in the first half of October. Nearly two inhabitants per 100 died of the disease during that time.

Those numbers rise above the national average and come as the state sees a consistently higher number of virus deaths.

In addition to the number of vaccines, the data shows that nursing home staff in Wyoming are nearly eight times more likely to be infected with COVID-19 than the national average. Nearly 60% of the locations report a shortage until mid-October.

The state is not lagging behind the percentage of nursing home residents who are fully vaccinated. Wyoming is located in the top half of the country at almost 90%.

Conversely, Wyoming’s nursing home workforce is among the least vaccinated in the nation, with about 40% of workers unvaccinated as of mid-October. New federal rules require any facility that receives Medicare or Medicaid dollars to implement a staff vaccination policy. Wyoming, along with nine other states, filed a lawsuit over the mandate on Wednesday.

An AARP spokesperson declined to comment on how federal rules affect policy in nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Wyoming.

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Some have speculated that the new rules will scare workers away at a time when healthcare workers are bleeding, but Wyoming Hospital Association vice president Josh Hannes said that’s not a primary concern.

Hannes said he expects some people to leave their positions, but vaccine policies will not lead to staff shortages in hospitals and nursing homes.

With nearly 60% of facilities reporting a shortage, Wyoming is the fifth state with the most workforce.

The new data comes a day after another grim update from the Wyoming Department of Health, adding 55 new deaths to Wyomng’s COVID-19 toll. Last week, the state announced 69 deaths — the highest weekly update reported in 2021.

This fall has been one of the deadliest periods for COVID-19-related illness since the Wyoming pandemic began.

There have now been 1,298 coronavirus-caused deaths in Wyoming since the pandemic arrived here in March 2020. Thirty percent of those deaths were reported after September 1 this year.

Follow health and education reporter Morgan Hughes on Twitter @m0rgan_hughes

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