By Jeffrey J. Downey, personal injury and nursing home litigation attorney serving Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia
In a recent article in Pro Publica, two sisters, several hundred miles apart, who work as health care professionals, sit on opposing sides on whether to take the vaccine. This small divide in between two family members pretty much describes the situation in our country where a scientific breakthrough that is saving thousands, possibly millions of lives, is the subject to debate due to misinformation and naked political calculation. Not even the most recent mutation of the Covid-19 virus, the delta variant, and now the lambda, another offshoot variant, could possibly convince many unvaccinated Americans to change their positions.
Last week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the delta variant accounts for 93 percent of cases, which included the unvaccinated. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky has said “this is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
Here we are as country18 months since the pandemic hit US shores in January 2020, and the effort to fight disinformation seems not to have put a dent into the views of the doubters of the vaccine. According to the latest data from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), 40 percent of those employed in the 15,000 nursing homes and assisted facilities remain unvaccinated, with some citing it as a personal choice, such as the sisters cited in the Pro Publica article.
In some cases, there were twenty-three individual facilities with vaccination rates under one percent, according to CMS data.
It is ironic in that the vaccination rate for nursing home residents is over 80 percent, according to CMS data, while the rates of the staffers for those facilities still lagged.
As the pandemic roars on, so does the problem of staffing at our nation’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities. A Scientific American in an analysis piece label nursing listed the work as “one of the most dangerous jobs in America.”
Sadly, the misinformation that has been broadcast by social media and amplified by many on the Republican side of the political spectrum for political expediency is why many Americans remain unvaccinated. It is only now — a little more than 18 months since the pandemic hit US shores — that some on the Republican side are coming to see that the misinformation was killing many of their constituents — both future and current, making them change their tune.
It is particularly stark in Southern states with some vaccination rates among nursing home staff as low as 45 percent, according to CMS data.
Locally, here are the latest numbers of deaths in nursing homes and assisted living facility due to Covid-19 from our region, according to CMS.
Virginia – 2687
Maryland – 2321
DC – 144
Suffice it to say, the virus has taught us that the situation is fluid, with information changing daily as to how the general population should deal with the virus. Here locally, Washington DC Mayor Bowser has enacted rules that all public facilities, including bars and restaurants requiring patrons to wear a mask. In some cases, some restaurants are going beyond the mask requirement asking for individuals entering their business to show a picture of their vaccination card as proof of vaccination.
And in Maryland, as of September 1st, all nursing homes that do not comply will be subject to increased fines, civil penalties, and enforcement actions, according to Governor Maryland Larry Hogan.
In Virginia, the statute regarding the wearing of masks to slow the spread is voluntary and is not enforceable.
If you or a loved one have had someone injured in a nursing home or assisted living facility related to Covid-19, contacted the Law Office of Jeffrey J. Downey for a free consultation.
The Law Office of Jeffrey J. Downey is a renowned legal representation firm with over 30 years of experience recognized for its expertise in addressing cases involving medical malpractice, nursing home litigation and personal injury. Please visit The Law Office of Jeffrey J. Downey, P.C for a free consultation.
The Law Office of Jeffrey J. Downey
8270 Greensboro Drive, Suite 810
McLean, VA 22102