TEXAS, USA — After going nearly five months without a rise of COVID-19 cases in Texas long-term care facilities, those establishments are seeing a spike in cases once again.
There were 221 new COVID-19 cases in Texas long-term care facilities Monday, according to data from Texas Health and Human Services.
This includes nursing facilities, assisted living facilities and intermediate care facilities, among other places.
This is the third time in the last six days cases have been reported when the daily COVID-19 case count was above 200.
This rise in cases is a problem for these facilities since the elderly are some of the most vulnerable to the virus, according to Tarrant County Medical Society President Angela Self.
"As we get older, our immune system is not as strong as when we were younger," Self said. "We lose a lot of that immunity to be able to fight off diseases, bacteria and viruses."
Self also has medical experience with geriatric patients. She said many of the new cases in these facilities are coming from staff members rather than the residents.
Self said it's important to remember these are places where sickness can spread rapidly since there is a lot of close interaction among the staff and members.
"They are bathing them," Self said. "They are bringing them their food trays. They are providing care that is very close to the member. Right in their face."
While these places saw the worst spread of the virus back in the winter, there is beginning to be a small rise since mid-July.
From March 19 through July 13, facilities reported more than 50 daily cases four times.
Since July 14, this has happened 19 times, and in the past 11 times cases have been reported, facilities have reported more than 100 daily cases every single day.
"People who are immunosuppressed or older are more susceptible to contracting, whether it's a virus, bacteria or whatever form of infectious disease," Self said.
When looking at the number of new people in Texas long-term care facilities getting vaccinated for COVID-19, the majority happened in March and April, while it's remained level since then.
The largest single-day report of new people in Texas long-term care facilities per day who received the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine happened on March 21. The state announced 2,800 new people had received their second dose.
While this statistic has remained on low since late April, the state most recently reported 627 new vaccinations as of Friday. This is the first daily report when it's been above 500 since April 27.
Self said due to the close proximity the staff must have with the residents, she believes mandating vaccines for people specifically working in these facilities would be the safest option.
"They are the ones really who have access to these patients who are working closely with them," Self said.
To see more of the long-term care COVID-19 data, you can click here.