Black Hawk County one of state’s trouble spots for care-facility COVID outbreaks – Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

Black Hawk County is one of the biggest trouble spots for care-facility infections in Iowa, with eight facilities in outbreak status, up from five just a week ago.

The Iowa Department of Public Health defines a nursing home outbreak as a facility with three or more active infections among the staffers and/or residents. The department says it does not track or report outbreaks and infections in state-licensed assisted living centers.

As of Friday, the following facilities in Black Hawk County were listed as outbreak status:

  • Friendship Village Retirement Center, Waterloo — Eight infections.
  • Martin Health Center, part of Western Home Communities in Cedar Falls — 15 infections.
  • NewAldaya Lifescapes, Cedar Falls — 47 infections.
  • Northcrest Specialty Care, Waterloo — Seven infections.
  • Pillar of Cedar Valley, Waterloo — 32 infections.
  • Pinnacle Specialty Care, Cedar Falls — 15 infections.
  • Ravenwood Specialty Care, Waterloo — Seven infections.
  • The Suites of Western Home Communities, Cedar Falls — 20 infections.

The number of COVID-19 infections in Iowa nursing homes more than doubled last week and now stands at 821.

The Iowa Department of Public Health said this week that as of Jan. 18, there were 63 Iowa nursing homes – about 15% of all skilled nursing facilities in the state – that were in outbreak status. Those 63 outbreaks have so far resulted in 821 infections of staff members and residents.

The data shows that over the past week, the number of nursing home outbreaks in Iowa increased 52%, from 41 to 63, and the number of infections increased 117%, from 378 to 821.

By comparison, there were only two Iowa nursing homes in outbreak status at one point last summer. However, the current numbers are still well below the levels seen in November 2020, when there were 4,327 infections associated with 119 outbreaks in Iowa nursing homes.

The biggest current outbreaks in Iowa care facilities are at the state-run Iowa Veterans Home and at Scott County’s Kahl Home for the Aged & Infirm. Both facilities have 55 infections associated with their current outbreaks.

This is the seventh outbreak at the Iowa Veterans Home, which is more than any other Iowa care facility. The six previous outbreaks at the Marshall County home resulted in at least 212 infections.

While 96% of the residents at the Iowa Veterans Home have been fully vaccinated, about 25% of the staff have refused the vaccine, according to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

During the pandemic, seven residents of the Iowa Veterans Home have died of COVID-19.

The veterans’ home isn’t the only Iowa care facility with a current, active outbreak that has fewer than 75% of its staff fully vaccinated. At ManorCare in West Des Moines, there are six infections associated with the latest outbreak there. According to CMS, only 61% of the staff there are fully vaccinated, and four residents of the home have died of COVID-19.

Nationally, Iowa has one of the highest vaccination rates among nursing home residents, with 93% of all residents fully vaccinated. Only seven other states have a higher vaccine acceptance rate among care facility residents. However, only 78% of Iowa’ nursing home workers are fully vaccinated. There are only 16 other states that have a lower percentage of vaccine acceptance among care facility workers.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 13,679 Iowa nursing home residents have contracted COVID-19, and 2,633 of them have died.

Here’s a look at the Northeast Iowa care facilities currently in outbreak status:

  • Allamakee County — Good Samaritan Home of Postville: 11 infections.
  • Bremer County — Denver Sunset Home: Four infections.
  • Franklin County — Rehabilitation Center of Hampton: 11 infections.
  • Howard County — Evans Memorial Home: Six infections.
  • Tama County — Westbrook Acres: 17 infections.

Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence. 

Subscribe to our Daily Headlines newsletter.