Nebraska Ranks High For Limited COVID Spread In Long-Term Care Facilities

Data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services show about 4% of Nebraska long-term care residents have contracted COVID-19 (As of July 2)
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July 5, 2020 - 6:45am

Nebraska ranks in the top 20 states for the lowest COVID-19 case and death rates among long-term care facility residents. Health experts attribute that to a unique program aimed at reducing infection in these facilities.

About 4% of long-term care facility residents in Nebraska have confirmed cases of COVID-19, and about 1% have died, according to federal data.

That’s a lower rate than about two-thirds of states. In Connecticut and Massachusetts, for example, more than 30% of long-term care residents have been infected.

Nebraska’s lower rates might be thanks to the Nebraska Infection Control Assessment and Promotion Program, or ICAP.

The program is a partnership between the state Department of Health and Human Services and the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The medical experts involved have offered free consulting to long-term care and other healthcare facilities for the past five years. 

ICAP Medical Director Muhammad Salman Ashraf says this gave Nebraska a head start in responding to a global pandemic.

"We have developed relationships with them over these five years," Ashraf said. "The success that we have so far in the nursing homes would not have been possible without their continuous engagement and their willingness to implement the best standards within their limited resources that they have."

Ashraf says they’ve often recommended changes to hand hygiene practices and increased infection control training for staff.

The state’s chief medical officer says COVID-19 has been confirmed in about 150 facilities in Nebraska, but he says the spread has slowed down significantly.

Of the more than 630 residents who have tested positive so far, only 16 were identified in the past two weeks.

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