The U.S. is seeing a rise in COVID-19-related hospitalizations, and the older population accounts for a growing percentage of U.S. deaths.
Hospitalizations for people infected with COVID-19 increased by more than 30% in two weeks, with much of that spike hitting older people and those with existing health problems, according to Center for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky.
The CDC data includes all hospitalizations of people who test positive for the coronavirus, regardless of the reason they were admitted.
Nursing home leaders are boosting efforts to have staff and residents boosted with the new version of the vaccine, which is now recommended by the federal government for people 6 months and older. These nursing homes now face complacency and COVID-19 fatigue.
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Easing coronavirus restrictions, broader immunity in the general population and mixed messages about whether the pandemic is over have lessened younger adults’ concerns about the virus. Nursing homes, however, are still dealing with the impact of COVID-19.
The nursing home leaders said it has become increasingly difficult to receive family consent for vaccinating nursing home residents. Some residents who can give their own consent are refusing the shots, while only 23% of nursing home staff are fully boosted.
Staff and visitors are potential ways in which the virus can enter nursing homes. Many facilities try to protect their residents with masks, screening questions, temperature checks and enhanced infection control.
Hospitals across the country are seeing a rise in senior COVID patients. The rate of daily U.S. hospital admissions for people ages 70 and older with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 jumped from 8.8 per 100,000 people on November 15 to 12.1 per 100,000 people on December 6, according to statistics from the Department of Health and Human Services.
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According to Scripps Research Translational Institute head Eric Topol, hospitalizations for seniors with COVID-19 in New York and California have already surpassed those during spring and summer omicron waves.
And in addition to an increase in hospitalizations, COVID deaths are also rising among seniors.
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Last spring and summer, death rates dipped overall as more people gained protection from vaccination and previous infection. However, the share of COVID-19–related deaths for adults 85 and older, who make up 2% of the population, jumped to 40%.
Throughout the pandemic, one in five COVID-19 deaths were people in a long-term care facility.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.