Inspectors cite Arizona nursing homes for COVID-19 safety errors

Dr. Robin Armstrong puts on his face shield while demonstrating his full personal protective equipment outside the entrance to The Resort at Texas City nursing home, where he is the medical director, Tuesday, April 7, 2020, in Texas City, Texas. Armstrong is treating nearly 30 residents of the nursing home with the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which is unproven against COVID-19 even as President Donald Trump heavily promotes it as a possible treatment. Armstrong said Trump's championing of the drug is giving doctors more access to try it on coronavirus patients. More than 80 residents and workers have tested positive for coronavirus at the nursing home. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

More than one in four Arizona nursing homes have been cited for errors that could cause further spread of COVID-19, according to health inspectors.

Inspections conducted since April observed staff who did not wear masks properly, neglected to sanitize their hands or medical equipment and failed to keep residents 6 feet (1.83 meters) apart, The Arizona Republic reports.

The inspection reports note facilities failed to follow their own policies and the shortcomings could result in the spread of infection to residents and staff.

The nursing homes included for-profit, nonprofit and government-run facilities that collectively serve more than 3,400 residents.

The facilities reported 277 deaths from the virus and 1,084 infected residents as of Aug. 23. The infection count excludes patients transferred from hospitals who were already infected.

The number of cases and deaths is believed to be higher because nursing homes were not required to report the statistics to the federal government until May.

The figures are the only available measure of Arizona nursing home cases and deaths because state public health officials have not shared the information, which has been collected since April.

More than half of the homes had sufficient staffing around the time of the inspections, according to their own reporting to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency responsible for federal quality standards at the nation’s 15,600 nursing homes.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

Republished with the permission of the Associated Press.