This is however a worldwide problem including in the U.S. (first article is local (=Quebec) while the second has a more global perspective).
COVID-19 in Quebec: With long-term care homes still short-staffed, premier asks Ottawa for 1,000 soldiers
Number of seniors' residences considered 'critical' by the province nearly doubled in 1 week
Another 1,000 soldiers will join the 65 troops with medical training who arrived earlier this week to support staff at CHSLDs [i.e., this acronym refers to long term-care facilities for the elderly in Quebec].
- Quebec has 20,965 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 1,134 people have died — the majority, residents of long-term care institutions and other seniors' homes.
- There are 1,278 people in hospital, including 199 in intensive care. Here's a guide to the numbers.
- Quebec is considering gradually reopening schools and daycares before the end of the June.
- Operating rooms could soon open at 50 per cent capacity for semi-urgent procedures.
- Director of Public Health Dr. Horacio Arruda says guidelines on wearing masks are coming later this week.
[Quebec provincial prime minister] Legault said he made the request because the province has not been able to find enough workers with the right training to meet the immediate needs of the worst-hit long-term care homes, known as CHSLDs.
For a week now, intensive recruitment efforts have been directed at medical specialists, nursing students and their teachers, and anyone with experience in the population at large.
But Legault said a major stumbling block has been the need for applicants to make a full-time, two-week commitment to a single facility — criteria aimed at minimizing on-the-job training and curtailing the further spread of the disease.
"It's not ideal," Legault said of his decision to call for more military back-up. "But at the same time, I think it will help us a lot to have the extra pairs of hands to do non-medical tasks and help the staff."
The 1,000 soldiers will join the 65 troops with medical training already supporting staff at CHSLDs in the Montreal region, as well as the detachment of Rangers now lending a hand in some remote communities in Quebec's far north.
Quebec's long-term care homes already faced a chronic shortage of nurses and patient attendants, before the outbreak.
Without sufficient personnel, COVID-19 spread rapidly through dozens of facilities, especially those in the Montreal area. As more and more staff have come into contact with the virus and been forced into isolation, many long-term care homes have been unable to provide residents with the most basic level of care.
The number of residences considered to be in a "critical situation" has more than doubled in the past week, going from 41 to 85.
At the CHSLD Sainte-Dorothée in Laval, 177 residents — or 92 per cent — have tested positive for COVID-19, and at least 67 of them have died.
The official death count has risen to 33 at the Herron, a privately owned CHSLD in Dorval. There are 73 positive COVID-19 cases at the residence — which means at least 75 per cent of residents are sick.
The premier announced another 93 COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, bringing the total number of fatalities linked to the virus to 1,134. The vast majority of those victims are seniors in care.
Legault said there are now "two worlds" in the province: one in the CHSLDs, where the situation remains critical.
But outside the CHSLDs — and outside the greater Montreal region, which is the epicentre of the pandemic in Quebec — transmission of the disease is dropping.
"We're moving in the right direction," Legault said.
The rising death toll among seniors in care, however, puts the province on pace to surpass the most optimistic scenario presented by public health experts earlier this month: 1,263 deaths by April 30.
When calculated as a rate per 1 million residents, Quebec is faring worse than the United States at similar stages in the pandemic's evolution.
Public Health Director Horacio Arruda, left, warned against drawing hasty conclusions from comparing Quebec's death toll with that of other countries.
But the province's public health director, Dr. Horacio Arruda, cautioned against drawing hasty conclusions from comparisons with other countries.
Quebec, he pointed out, uses a more inclusive definition of what counts as a death attributable to COVID-19. Unlike other jurisdictions, Quebec includes probable — but not tested — fatalities outside hospitals.
"It's like comparing apples to oranges and, why not, to bananas, as well," Arruda said.
Given the improving situation, Legault said the government will release details next week about how and when the lockdown and other restrictions imposed due to the pandemic will be relaxed.
But he clarified that while schools will reopen before the fall, attendance won't be obligatory. It will be left to parents to decide if they want their children to return to classes.
More questions about equipment
The government, meanwhile, continues to face questions from health-care workers who say they are still short of personal protective equipment.
About 1.6 per cent of health-care workers in Quebec — as many as 4,000 — are sick with COVID-19, according to Health Minister Danielle McCann. In Montreal, however, that figure is closer to three per cent.
Orderlies and cleaning staff are about twice as likely to catch the virus than nurses, according to Jeff Begley, president of the CSN-affiliated health and social services federation.
'In general, I would say to you that the distribution [of protective equipment] is going well, but I know there are exceptions,' Health Minister Danielle McCann said Wednesday.
"That's not surprising, because the hot spots are in long-term care centres, and the staff that are on the day-to-day front lines are, majority, this type of worker," Begley said.
He said some employees are having to reuse single-use masks and wear them longer than they normally should.
On Wednesday, McCann reiterated that the province now has sufficient protective equipment for all its health-care workers. Any shortages on the ground, she said, are likely the result of distribution issues.
"In general, I would say to you that the distribution is going well, but I know there are exceptions," McCann said. She invited anyone who experienced a problem to contact her office, promising it would be dealt with "within the hour."
A bit of levity
Things feel a little bleak. But people are finding ways to bring joy to themselves and others. This Trois-Rivières family is using some of their time at home to show off their moves — on TikTok.
The three Haley-Guimond sisters have even enlisted their parents.
A Quebec City couple, Evelyne Paré and Simon Blanchet, has garnered attention with their method of passing the time.
Paré and Blanchet made a stop-motion video that used nearly 5,000 pieces of Lego to pay tribute to the province's health-care and other essential workers.
The result is a film that runs just under two minutes, starring Arruda, McCann and the premier, a.k.a. François Lego.
OP: Today a second province, Ontario, also asked for the army's help with elderly care homes.
OP note 2: A bit of context on Quebec's PM Legault and his cronies: this is the lovely group of people who passed racist laws targeting minorities.
(OP: The following report is from April 9th, 2020.)
Care homes across globe in spotlight over Covid-19 death rates
Residential homes have emerged as key breeding ground for infections from Madrid to New York
Ambulances wait near an elderly care home in Budapest on Thursday where five people have reportedly died and more than 100 others have been infected with coronavirus.
Care homes for older people across much of Europe and North America are struggling to cope with the global coronavirus pandemic, prompting allegations of inhumane treatment and calls for high-level inquiries.
Appalling stories have emerged from residential homes, which have emerged as a key location for infections. People aged 70 and older are at higher risk of getting very sick or dying from the coronavirus. And people 85 and over are even more vulnerable, global figures show.
In Spain, the army has reported finding dead and abandoned people in their beds after it was drafted in to help disinfect care centres. Care homes in the Madrid region alone have reported the deaths of 4,260 residents who were diagnosed with coronavirus or had associated symptoms since 8 March, the regional government said on Wednesday.
In France almost a third of all coronavirus deaths have been of residents in care homes. According to the latest figures released on Tuesday a total of 3,237 people have died in care homes. In Paris alone there were 172 deaths and over 2,300 homes have reported at least one case of Covid-19.
At one of the worst affected care homes in Mougins, near Cannes in the Alpes-Martimes, 31 people – one third of its total number of residents – have died since 20 March. A spokesperson for the home also revealed that 14 of the 50 staff had tested positive for Covid-19. The family of one resident who died is taking legal action against persons unknown for “endangering a person’s life”.
A worker pushes a man on a wheelchair outside an elderly people’s nursing home in Burgos in northern Spain on Thursday
On Wednesday, Le Monde published an op-ed from Monique Pelletier, a former minister for women, who criticised the “incomprehensible and inhumane” way residents in some retirement homes were being treated.
“It’s taken hundreds of deaths of ‘the old’ in these establishments … from Covid-19 for people to finally show some interest in them,” she wrote. “First of all we ‘forgot’ to publish the number of them who died daily, reserving that only for those who died in hospital for more than a week, then we learn more than 3,000 have died.”
She said many residents had been shut away in their rooms for six weeks without seeing anyone else except hard-pressed staff after visits were banned.
In Italy an anomalously high number of recent deaths in the country’s care homes has prompted calls for a parliamentary inquiry. According to figures from the Higher Health Institute (ISS), 3,859 people have died in care homes across the country operated by the RSA organisation since 1 February, of whom 133 had tested positive for coronavirus and 1,310 suffered symptoms connected with it.
However, Giovanni Rezza, the ISS’s chief epidemiologist, told reporters on Tuesday the figures are underestimates, given that few tests have been carried out on residents.
Staff at a retirement home in Bergamo, Italy, wave to radiological, chemical and biological defence experts from the Russian Defence Ministry who had come to carrying out a full disinfection.
The majority of the care home deaths have been in Lombardy, the region worst affected by coronavirus and where prosecutors are investigating a care home in Milan where 27 people died of suspected coronavirus in the first week of April.
Relatives of residents say that resolving the situation must take priority over prosecutions. As hospitals in Lombardy became quickly overwhelmed, little guidance was given on how to handle the virus in care homes, it has emerged.
“I’m not interested in pointing the finger – what I want to know is, what are we doing to solve this?” said Giorgia Memo, whose mother, Fernanda, is in the Milan care home.
Memo said that of 25 residents on the same floor as her mother, 18 or so had a fever. She said her mother is also now very weak.
“I haven’t seen her in over a month. Ten days ago they said tests would be done on everyone. But where are these tests? Do we have to wait until everyone dies before something is done?”
Memo added: “The medical staff and assistants in there are outstanding – they are working 12-hour days and when I call at the end of the day, they still have the energy to tell me how my mother is. But as they are getting sick too, there aren’t many people working there.”
In Germany there have been reports of deaths in homes totalling hundreds across the country. In the worst case so far, 29 out of 160 residents at a care home in the northern city of Wolfsburg died after 74 residents became infected. Prosecutors are now investigating the home on charges of death through negligence.
Gerda Hasselfeldt, president of the German Red Cross, described the situation in care homes as “extremely fraught”. “If we are not careful, over the next few weeks hospitals will have to face the prospect of admitting many patients from care homes,” she warned.
Ireland reported coronavirus clusters in 86 nursing homes on Wednesday, more than double the number from last Saturday, fuelling accusations that authorities moved too slowly to protect some of those most vulnerable to the disease.
Officials became alarmed last weekend when there were 40 clusters and announced measures to help nursing homes, including the creation of national and regional infection-control teams, temperature screening of staff twice a day and financial support of up to €72m.
Most of the outbreaks are in private facilities, with a minority in those run by the health service. The nursing home sector welcomed the support and said it could cope if staff were given training and equipment.
Staff at the Pinecrest nursing home in Bobcaygeon, Canada, wave to passing cars sounding their horns in support after 29 residents died and dozens of staff were made ill by coronavirus.
In Canada, health authorities have been grappling with coronavirus cases in long-term care homes across the country. At one retirement home in Bobcaygeon, Ontario, 29 of its 65 residents have died after contracting the virus.
In the United States, a home in Kings County in Washington State has become a focus of concern, after 40 people died and staff transmitted the virus to other care homes in the area. In Texas, where there have been serious outbreaks, authorities have refused to release any statistics on infections or deaths in care homes. Authorities in California have urged people to remove their relatives from care homes wherever possible.
Many countries are also reporting a shortage of basic protective equipment and testing kits in care homes, leaving staff vulnerable.
In Spain, the CSIF public workers’ union said two care home workers had died from the virus in the Madrid region while another 400 had become infected.
Elvira González Santos, president of the Aetesys nursing association, said the conditions in many Spanish care homes were finally coming to light, to the relief of the association’s members.
“Now that it’s been in the media and the government is acting and testing people, people are feeling a little better,” she said. “But there’s still a lack of personal protective equipment, which is in high demand and very expensive.”
The Red Cross said across Germany care homes were suffering from a lack of protective clothing and disinfectant, which was contributing to the virus’s spread.
In the US: At least 2,300 nursing homes have coronavirus cases — and the reality is likely much worse. (Report from April 13th, 2020)
OP: Hey right wing assholes, do you still think budget cuts are a good idea for people's health (this involves shifting care to the private sector)???