New coronavirus cases reported on Friday: 58; Vaccine on the way to hard-hit nursing homes
Three more Cambridge residents have died from Covid-19 since Tuesday – the most recent on Thursday – after more than two months when the city recorded no deaths from the virus. The number of cases is rising fast, with 58 infections reported Friday.
While residents under 40 continue to show the sharpest increases, the virus is also striking older age groups. The number of residents in their 70s who have tested positive rose to 204 on Friday, up seven cases in four days. The increase was the same for residents in their 80s.
On Wednesday the city also reported another long-term care resident tested positive for the virus, without identifying the facility. A state report posted Friday named Sancta Maria Nursing Facility. The report also said one to four staff members at Sancta Maria were infected with the virus. The city doesn’t report positive cases among staff in long-term care facilities unless they live in Cambridge.
Nursing home cases
Sancta Maria is the only Cambridge nursing home to report infections among residents since June 21. A cluster of seven residents and one staff member tested positive in October. Since then the nursing home reported two more resident cases this month before the one disclosed Friday. It reported one to four staff cases on four days in November and this month, including the one reported Friday. The state health department says it doesn’t reveal the exact number of cases under five, to protect privacy.
Covid-19 poses a special threat to nursing home residents because of their age and poor health. Because of the current surge, the state health department requires nursing homes to test employees for the virus weekly to try to prevent staff from spreading the virus to residents. The health department recommends but does not require assisted living centers to test employees every week.
The additional deaths in Cambridge this week weren’t residents living in nursing homes or assisted living centers; long-term care deaths have remained at 72 since June 19.
Vaccine doses coming
Massachusetts expects to get 40,000 to 60,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for nursing home residents and staff this month, the Baker administration said Tuesday. It was to be shipped to Walgreens and CVS pharmacies, which will send pharmacists to nursing homes to administer the shots. On Friday state officials said Massachusetts’ Pfizer vaccine allocation had been cut by almost one-third, The Boston Globe reported; it was not clear whether or how that would affect nursing homes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a similar vaccine from Cambridge-based Moderna on Friday; the state’s allocation wasn’t immediately disclosed.
The FDA requires that any facility providing the Pfizer vaccine be capable of responding to a severe allergic reaction. At least three people who got the Pfizer vaccine after it was approved had an anaphylactic reaction, according to news reports.
Nursing homes can meet the FDA requirement, Department of Public Health spokesman Omar Cabrera said Friday, Under state rules they must have an emergency kit onsite that includes medications for severe allergic reactions and must also have agreements for transferring residents to hospitals, he said.
It couldn’t be learned whether there are similar mandates for assisted living facilities.