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More PPE needed at North Carolina nursing homes, advocates say

Posted November 13, 2020 6:05 p.m. EST
Updated November 13, 2020 6:31 p.m. EST

— As coronavirus cases rise in North Carolina, the AARP is calling on state leaders to better protect people in nursing homes.

“More than 1,559 North Carolina nursing home residents and staff have already died of COVID-19, and facilities still don’t have the PPE and staffing they need,” AARP North Carolina Director Michael Olender said.

“Although the governor and [the state Department of Health and Human Services] have been very responsive to the needs of nursing home residents, the expected spike in cases during the cold weather months means we need to still do more to make visitation safe,” Olender said.

More than 16,000 coronavirus infections and 1,800 deaths have been linked to North Carolina nursing homes. Now, places like Universal Healthcare North Raleigh are suspending visitation hours. The center recently reported a second outbreak.

Nursing homes that aren’t limiting visitation should have access to more personal protective equipment, says Lisa Riegel, AARP’s manager of advocacy in North Carolina.

“As we go into the holiday season, you're going to have more visitors. The visitors need to wear PPE, the staff need to wear PPE and the cases are spiking,” she said.

North Carolina's nursing home death rate, number of cases and staffing shortages exceed the national average.

Riegel says AARP will lobby state lawmakers for more resources when they return to session in January.

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