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December 16, 2020

How the gig economy helps spread Covid in nursing homes

By Paul Dennis

16 December

Nursing homes accounted for 40% of the US Covid-related mortalities towards the end of August, highlighting the urgent need to cut SARS-CoV-2 transmission routes in these facilities.

Direct connections between nursing homes bridges other clusters of homes, potentially importing or exporting SARS-CoV-2 infection across different subnetworks.

Frolian Ederer, an economist, re-tweeted on how nursing home workers shifting across facilities were forming a Covid transmission network according to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) of the United States of America, a scientific journal.

Experts suggest that even in non-pandemic times, understaffing at long-term care facilities and nursing homes leads to poor services and regulatory violations.

As a result, care facilities rely on staffing agencies to employ nurses and nurse aides on an on-call basis.

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This leads to some of the cross movement of workers between facilities, the paper noted.

Researchers found that a major challenge of nursing homes was that every connection was a possible link to other connections and to the SARS-CoV2 transmission.

For instance, the Alabama subnetwork reported eight Covid cases among its residents and 30 confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases among its staff.

This facility is directly connected to another nursing home in Alabama, which reported 68 residents and 48 staff members to have contracted the Covid-19 infection.

Again, both of these facilities are connected to other nursing homes.

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