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We don’t know enough about what’s happening at nursing homes

We’ve talked before about two of the main coronavirus hotspot types in Texas, prisons and meat processing plants. Now we’re going to talk about that third type, nursing homes.

As the death toll grows at Texas nursing homes, so has the number of requests for information kept by state health officials that would reveal which long-term care facilities have suffered coronavirus outbreaks during the worst pandemic in generations.

But the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which regulates nursing homes and assisted living facilities, is attempting to keep its records secret, despite calls for more transparency from open-government advocates, some Texas lawmakers and family members worried about vulnerable residents.

“The public is being left in the dark, and we’re losing control of our ability to oversee the operations of our government,” said Joe Larsen, a lawyer with the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, which published an open letter last month urging the health commission to release its records on nursing home infections.

In a May 4 letter to the Texas Attorney General’s Office, Carey Smith, a lawyer representing the health commission, said the agency has received more than two dozen public records requests for nursing home data about coronavirus infections, but that federal and state laws prohibit the release of the information because it might identify infected residents and violate their privacy.

However, Texas legislators who wrote one of the laws cited by Smith said it doesn’t prohibit officials from releasing statistical information about COVID-19 in nursing homes.

“The statute was not intended to create a blanket protection for all health-related information,” said former Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, who authored the bill in the Texas Senate last year.

The sponsor of the bill in the Texas House, Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, said releasing statistical data from nursing homes could benefit both consumers and government authorities. And, like Watson, he said the bill they passed doesn’t prevent state officials from releasing that information.

“So long as you can’t get personal identifying information I don’t see why the current rules and statutes that we have don’t already allow that information to be released,” Capriglione said.

[…]

After facing criticism from families and advocates of nursing home residents, Texas began releasing statewide statistics that show the total number of coronavirus deaths at nursing homes, which provide round-the-clock care, and assisted living facilities, which are less intensive.

As of [May 1], 478 COVID-19 deaths — nearly half of the 1,042 reported in Texas — were at nursing homes or assisted living centers, records show.

But state health officials haven’t disclosed infection rates for each location, which has stymied families trying to protect their relatives. The lack of information also leaves hospice workers and other contract caregivers in the dark.

That story was from early May. Since then, we have gotten more numbers from the state.

More than 3,000 Texas nursing home residents have tested positive for the new coronavirus, as well as nearly 400 assisted living facility residents, according to data released Friday by the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Among the reported 311 nursing homes with confirmed cases, 3,011 residents have tested positive and 490 have died. Another 494 residents have recovered, according to the data. At 112 assisted living facilities in Texas with at least one confirmed coronavirus case, 382 residents have tested positive for the virus, and 95 have died.

Statewide, 1,272 people have died, but it was unclear late Friday if all of the long-term care facility patients’ deaths were included in that larger figure.

The state had previously released only the number of nursing homes with confirmed cases and fatalities, not the number of people who have tested positive.

The state is still not releasing the names of nursing homes with COVID-19 cases. Many families remain in the dark about whether their loved ones in nursing homes are at risk of exposure.

There are a lot of reasons why we need more and better reporting of this data. For one, just so that the people who have family and friends that live or work at these places can know what’s going on with them. For two, to better identify the places that are not up to standard on health and safety. For three, so we can learn from the places that are doing well as well as the places that are doing poorly, so the overall level of safety and care can be improved. This is not hard to understand, and at least it looks like there’s bipartisan agreement that the existing laws need to be upgraded for the future. Put that on the ever-lengthening to do list for the 2021 Lege.

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35 Comments

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    One thing Texas has done differently than other states, is not force nursing homes to take Wuhan virus patients into their facilities. New York and Pennsylvania, looking at y’all here.

    Here’s the stunning and brave PA Health Secretary, who famously got his own mother out of a home, while the state was forcing homes to take in those sickened by the virus:

    https://www.newsweek.com/pennsylvania-health-secretary-moved-mother-out-nursing-home-coronavirus-death-toll-increased-1503853

    And Manny, let’s talk about HCQ. Those Texas City nursing home residents that got it after coming down with the virus? All living. But hey, no one wants to talk about the Trump cure anymore. Texas’ own nursing home death toll would be much higher if not for HCQ, based on the numbers of infected vs. dead.

  2. David Fagan says:

    Faith in government is not going to cure this issue. What do you want the legislature to do about improving the state of nursing homes? First, I’d suggest visiting every one in the Houston area to get an idea about the problems, before expecting government to wave a magic wand. The first issues are the different distinctions between them all. ‘Nursing homes’ is not a blanket term for all elderly care facilities. Some are full time care, assisted living, or independent living to name a few. The same facility can have both independent living and assisted and full care facilities in the same building. How you going to force a person’s information in independent living, which is compared to an apartment, versus assisted living, but they are in the same facilities? They are managed by the same company, but are managed differently, but in the case of covid, the different living styles can affect each other greatly.

  3. Jules says:

    Bill you are such a stupid liar. Why do you waste everyone’s time here with your idiotic lies? Some of those Texas City nursing home guinea pigs have indeed died.

    Go away. Go post on Republican blogs where facts don’t matter.

    https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/texas-city-nursing-home-doc-unproven-trump-drug-15270476.php

  4. Bill Daniels says:

    From your own link:

    “Armstrong said the growth on Helen Edrozo’s neck was “unusual” but couldn’t say what caused it without reviewing hospital records.

    “She was treated and she had recovered from the COVID-19 and had a lot of other medical problems in addition to that,” Armstrong said.”

    So, this woman died from something NOT the virus. Write it up as a virus death. That’s real “Sprinkle some crack on him and write it up” stuff, Jules.

    No thoughts on Cuomo, Wolf, and the stunning and brave PA Health Secretary forcing nursing homes to take virus patients into their facilities, Jules? I notice a conspicuous lack of interest in that little tidbit, or how that might factor into Texas having much lower virus death in nursing homes because Abbott didn’t order that to be done here. Jules? Jules?

  5. Jules says:

    Bill, your quote: “And Manny, let’s talk about HCQ. Those Texas City nursing home residents that got it after coming down with the virus? All living.”

    And Bill, nice try on trying to make it seem as if she was the only one to die, but again, you lie.

    You are a liar.

  6. C.L. says:

    King Of the Whataboutism.

  7. brad says:

    Jules,

    Please tone it down and have some empathy.

    Bill has the Trump Virus which is highly contagious in Republican circles. Lying, disseminating misinformation, falling for obvious conspiracy theories, and intellectual dishonesty are the obvious symptoms.

    Have some compassion for this person.

  8. Jules says:

    brad, I know you are joking, but I really should be kinder. It is a very trying time.

  9. Wolfgang says:

    Re: “forcing nursing homes to take virus patients into their facilities”

    I haven’t heard about this. I remember Cuomo saying that they are privately-run institutions licensed by the state, and that patients would be taken by the relevant state agency to other facilities if the private home could not handle them (presumably with adverse consequences for their licensing status). So, in the absence of relevant evidence, Wolf does not have an opinion on this particular sub-issue. As far as discrimination (in admissions decisions) solely based on a particular disease, I would think it would be a question of pre-existing state law, and what type of license they have, but again, I don’t have sufficient info, and I can’t meaningfully weigh in on every angle even if I am interested in the topic have time on my hands to kill before COVID-19 may kill me. Cuomo might have used emergency powers to issue an order affecting nursing home admissions. I am not particularly interested, though, as I have more of a stake in what happens in Texas.

    That said, I do have what I would pass off as an educated opinion on the guinea-pig scenario, though, because the scientific method — and the associated logic and causal inference processes — also apply in the social sciences (which is where I got some background). So here: You won’t get proof either way from some random or nonrandom Doc deciding to dispense experimental Meds — compassionately or otherwise — because it wasn’t a random control trial. What’s the comparison group here? Or even the baseline? And is the nursing home large enough to really be able to meaningfully compare current death/survival rates to a comparable time-frame a year ago? What’s your confidence level when the adverse event variable is measured in the single digits and entire resident population measures a dozen or a few? Also, even if there is spike compared to past patterns, or a drop, you must ask, what else might have changed when COVID-19 arrived? (correlating conditions, confounding variables).

    For a good experimental setup, the experiment/trial administrator should NOT know which patients get the experimental treatment vs. the conventional cocktail or the placebo and the assignment must be random. You just can’t base a conclusion as to efficacy for your intervention/treatment on a single case, or a single doc, or a single site. The patients should not know either which group they belong to so as to avoid confounding effects. It’s called double-blind, though I am not certain that’s the term they actually use in clinical trials.

    All that’s not to say that looking (and clinically studying) a single case, or a few cases, is worthless, but any conclusions will have to be tentative and cautious.

  10. Bill Daniels says:

    March 25, 2020 Dept. of Health Order

    https://nypost.com/2020/04/28/more-blood-on-gov-cuomos-hands-amid-nursing-home-coronavirus-crisis-goodwin/

    “The Department of Health order, dated March 25, decreed that nursing homes and rehab centers could not use a positive COVID-19 test as the sole basis for rejecting a patient being referred from hospitals. Fearing state regulators, many facility executives say they accepted the transfers even though they believed the order was a death sentence for some existing patients and staff.”

  11. Bill Daniels says:

    And here’s Pennsylvania, de facto ordering the murder of their nursing home residents:

    https://www.buckscountycouriertimes.com/news/20200501/states-ordered-nursing-homes-to-take-covid-19-residents-thousands-died-how-it-happened

    “Posted May 1, 2020 at 3:20 PM

    Coronavirus has spread like wildfire through many nursing homes across the Northeast, and state officials are scrambling to better protect those most vulnerable. Yet the death toll has been devastating.

    On March 29, as Pennsylvania, New York and other states began ordering nursing homes to admit medically stable residents infected with the coronavirus, national trade groups warned it could unnecessarily cost more lives.

    The health directives put “frail and older adults who reside in nursing homes at risk” and would “result in more people going to the hospital and more deaths,” the American Health Care Association and affiliates said at the time.

    A month later, it appears government officials should have heeded the dire call to pursue different pandemic emergency plans.

    The deadly virus has spread like wildfire through many nursing homes across the Northeast, and state officials are scrambling to better protect those most vulnerable to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.”

  12. Bill Daniels says:

    SKIN IN THE GAME

    Oh, and here’s Trump himself, telling you he’s got skin in the HCQ game. He takes it himself as prophylactic measure. No wonder he doesn’t bother with a mask and seems unconcerned about getting it.

    https://streamable.com/5h6qvw

    So Trump joins the ranks of millions of lupus sufferers, and at risk folks in malaria ridden areas who aren’t getting the virus. Weird how that’s working.

    Compare and contrast that with the Pennsylvania Health Secretary.

    NO SKIN IN THE GAME

    While this mentally ill “expert” was literally sending people to cause the death of others, our ‘man’ was pulling his own mother out of a nursing home. Why should she die with the unwashed masses? This is de facto proof that he knew the order he was backing was going to be deadly to elderly folks like his mother.

    Mentally ill? Check.

    Selfish? Check.

  13. brad says:

    Bill,

    Pennsylvania “de facto ordering the murder of their nursing home residents”…Good one.

    Why aren’t you commenting and caring about Trump’s actions/words (in addition to his abject incompetence) the which will undoubtedly kill many of his own supporters?

  14. brad says:

    Bill,

    Surprised you didn’t catch my redundant word use (“Trump Virus”) earlier since we know the Latin literal definition of virus is “slimy liquid, poison”

  15. Manny says:

    Trump is a liar, Bill is a liar. Bill, if you believe the Russian Cheeto is taking any kind of drugs you are dumber than I thought.

    What about “Mourning in America” Bill, why won’t you talk about how Trump’s incompetence has led to almost 100,000 American deaths? By November we will be hitting nearly 300,000 American dying because of Trump’s incompetence.

    What about Trump’s Depression, why won’t you talk about the 20 to 25 percent unemployment because of Trump’s incompetence.

    There is “Mourning in America”

    https://youtu.be/t_yG_-K2MDo

  16. Manny says:

    Because of Trump and his incompetence there may be more Americans die in one year of Covid-19 than died in two years of the 1918 flu.

    Listen to your boss, Bill.

    https://youtu.be/7flBPG2djQI

  17. Jules says:

    My sense is also that Trump is lying about taking hqc.

  18. Ross says:

    @Bill, having lived in a malaria ridden area for several years, I feel pretty confident in saying that the locals are not taking chloroquine or HCQ as a malaria preventative. Very few of them take anything, lacking the funds to do so, and not wanting to add to the pool of resistant strains. Chlorquine doesn’t work well in most places, nor does HCQ.

  19. Jules says:

    It’s amazing how many people think trump is lying about taking hqc. His doctor’s note doesn’t even specifically say he is taking it.

    Whether he’s actually taking it or not, so many think he is lying, not just me and Manny.

  20. Manny says:

    Jules even the media is realizing that almost everything that comes out of Trump’s mouth is a lie or trash. Trump is a coward who is afraid of germs, who in his right mind would think that coward would take anything that could kill him. Remember he surrounds himself with people that will lie for him, no exceptions.

    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/chris-cuomo-trump-hydroxychloroquine_n_5ec39119c5b60eaebbfc3659

  21. Paul Kubosh says:

    You guys are to much. Reminds me of the argument about Bail Reform. Ya’ll were clearly wrong, wrong about Russia, and you care wrong here. There are plenty of reasons not to like Trump but your arguments are not persuasive. When I see Jules post I swear I think of a high school kid getting hyped up on Caffeine and letting it rip.

  22. Bill Daniels says:

    Paul, absolutely right. But you forgot Biden-Ukraine corruption.

    Listen to the tape of Biden doing his quid pro quo, holding the billion dollars of IMF aid in exchange for firing the prosecutor, Shokin, who was investigating Burisma, the company paying off Hunter Biden.

    Listen specifically to Porchenko SAY that Shokin was suspected of no wrongdoing, but he was getting shit canned, specifically because Biden asked for it. Listen to Biden talk about the new prosecutor “cleaning up the damage” done by Shokin. The damage was investigating Biden’s corruption!

    It’s all on tape!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbmDLhJ43cU&feature=emb_logo

    Remember how all this was just a crazy conspiracy theory? Listen to the tape! Listen to it happen!

  23. Jules says:

    Wrong about Russia? Who told you that? AG Barr?

    Wrong here about what? That some of the people that Bill said were “All living” are in fact dead?

    That trump is such a liar that many don’t believe he’s taking a drug just because he says so?

  24. Bill Daniels says:

    And for a trip down memory lane, here’s the kill shot on the Trump impeachment for NOT doing exactly what Biden did.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtA2yrY_hE8&feature=youtu.be

    So, we just heard Biden and John Kerry holding Porchenko hostage for a billion dollars in exchange for firing a prosecutor that Porchenko himself says was clean and had done nothing wrong. We heard them.

    Now we have Sondland telling us he didn’t have any evidence of Trump doing something similar. No one on this planet told him aid was tied to investigating Biden’s corruption that we now can here….ON TAPE, for ourselves.

  25. Manny says:

    Paul let us talk about “Mourning in America”, you, Bill, and your kind that support and voted for Trump have as much responsibility for what is happening. We have an idiot in the White House and probably the most corrupt person to ever hold that position.

    90,000 dead and counting, hundreds of thousands that survived after weeks in the hospital, about 20 to 25% unemployment because of Trump’s incompetence and you still say, we are wrong.

    You like to talk about HEB, let us talk as to why the lines at HEB are not as long as the lines to receive food. Thanks to you, Bill, and your kind who voted for the village idiot we have the worst economy in my lifetime, and I am past 70 years old.

    Distraction that is what your kind of people do hoping that honest people will take their eyes of the misery that Trump has brought to what once the greatest country in the world, now the world pities us.

    There is “Mourning in America”, Paul

    https://youtu.be/t_yG_-K2MDo

  26. C.L. says:

    King of the Whataboutism x2.

  27. Bill Daniels says:

    Here ya go, C.L.

    Start about 28 minutes in. Listen to Biden ask Porchenko to get the Bravat Bank deal done before Trump gets inaugurated. Trump can’t know about this!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1806&v=JXUhGMuhYCM&feature=emb_logo

    C.L., at what point do you wake up and realize you’ve been lied to? You can HEAR the quid pro quo take place! You can HEAR Biden tell Porchenko to get this deal done before Trump get power and finds out about it. What will it take for you to come out from under the ether?

    Obama-Biden was NOT JFK’s Camelot.

  28. Bill Daniels says:

    More fun reading for you, C.L.

    Here’s the unredacted Susan Rice CYA e-mail about the infamous January 5, 2017 White House meeting. Read it. Keep in mind that on January 4, the FBI was gonna close the Flynn investigation because “no derogatory information found.”

    https://www.foxnews.com/politics/read-declassified-susan-rice-email-about-jan-5-2017-oval-office-meeting-with-obama

    Yet here we are, January 5, Comey telling Obama and Biden they’re gonna continue investigating Flynn. We now know that multiple people, including Biden, unmasked Flynn. They all conspired to go after Flynn for nothing! Where’s the original 302 written by Pientka? Remember Pientka, the guy who didn’t think Flynn lied during his ambush questioning?

    Biden tells you he doesn’t know anything about spying on Team Trump? Remember how Team Trump having their ‘wires tapped’ was all a vast right wing conspiracy? Yeah.

    Doesn’t any of this make you wonder even just a smidge, maybe I got bad information? Maybe I was lied to by somebody? Bueller? Bueller?

  29. Manny says:

    Bill no one cares what that idiot and all his cronies and crooks have come up with. They have brought down the greatest country in the world in less than four years. Pathetic American haters is what Trump and all his followers are.

    Why aren’t you talking about how Trump has wrecked the economy, Bill?

    Why aren’t you talking about the 90,000 deaths and counting, Bill?

    Why aren’t you talking about 4 trillion dollars a year deficit Bill?

    Why aren’t you talking about the 1 trillion dollars a year deficit before the pandemic, Bill?

    America is in mourning, Bill, because idiots voted for the most corrupt, stupid, person to ever sit in the White House.

    There is “Mourning in America”, Bill.

    https://youtu.be/t_yG_-K2MDo

  30. Manny says:

    Ask yourself, Bill, are you better off today than you were four years ago?

    Americans know that Trump is a disaster, that is why Biden is kicking Trump’s ass in almost all possible swing states. Biden will win Texas, Bill, because there are not enough idiots in the United States to re-elect the Russian Cheeto.

  31. Joel says:

    Unfortunately, it only takes 270 idiots to elect a president.

    And there are definitely enough for that.

  32. Bill Daniels says:

    Ukrainian judge orders Biden to be named as alleged perpetrator of crime, vs. being listed as ‘unnamed American.’

    https://justthenews.com/accountability/russia-and-ukraine-scandals/ukraine-judge-orders-joe-biden-be-listed-alleged

    “The infamous story of Joe Biden’s effort to force the firing of Ukraine’s chief prosecutor in 2016 has taken a new legal twist in Kiev, just as the former vice president is sewing up the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination in America.

    In Kiev late last month, District Court Judge S. V. Vovk ordered the country’s law enforcement services to formally list the fired prosecutor, Victor Shokin, as the victim of an alleged crime by the former U.S. vice president, according to an official English translation of the ruling obtained by Just the News.

    The court had previously ordered the Prosecutor General’s Office and the State Bureau of Investigations in February to investigate Shokin’s claim that he was fired in spring 2016 under pressure from Biden because he was investigating Burisma Holdings, the natural gas company where Biden’s son Hunter worked.
    Read more

    The court ruled then that there was adequate evidence to investigate Shokin’s claim that Biden’s pressure on then-President Petro Poroshenko, including a threat to withhold $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees, amounted to unlawful interference in Shokin’s work as Ukraine’s chief prosecutor.

    But when law enforcement agencies opened the probe they refused to name Biden as the alleged perpetrator of the crime, instead listing the potential defendant as an unnamed American.

    Vovk ruled that anonymous listing was improper and ordered the law enforcement agencies to formally name Biden as the accused perpetrator.”

    So, we’ve heard a tape of the actual calls where Biden forces the quid pro quo on Ukraine. We heard Biden in his own voice do the quid pro quo. Then we hear Biden in his own voice try to cover up the crime, telling Porchenko to hide the money BEFORE Trump gets elected and can find out about it, and now Ukraine NAMES Biden as the alleged perpetrator in the crime against Shokin, who Porchenko himself says has done nothing wrong.

    This is EXACTLY what you accused Trump of doing, but we’ve got the tapes of Joe actually doing it. And yet, we seem remarkably incurious about any of this. We wanted to impeach a president for this kind of thing. We can hear Biden doing it, in his own voice.

    [sigh]

  33. Jules says:

    Bill, are you babbling about this because it took place in a nursing home? Are you babbling in a nursing home? What does this have to do with nursing homes and COVID19?

  34. Manny says:

    I want to point out that people that seem to defend the Russian Cheeto are people that rely on government to survive. Bill has claimed that he got federal contracts and then changed it to state contracts, but like Trump, Bill is a compulsive liar.

    I believe that he gets paid by either the Russians are the Trump’s campaign to come ply his lies and misinformation.

    Wonder why they never bring up the 30 billion handout to mostly all white farmers for not doing anything? Talk about welfare kings, they are it.

    Biden has committed to pardoning Trump, that is good because Trump belongs behind bars if not a prison a mental institute. Maybe Trump will try drinking camel urine it is suppose to be even better that the drug he claims he is taking.

    There is “Mourning in America”, thanks to Trump and people like Bill.

    https://youtu.be/t_yG_-K2MDo

  35. Manny says:

    Biden has committed to “Not pardoning” Trump.