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Plenty of blame to go around for nursing home deaths | READER COMMENTARY

In this April 20, 2020, file photo, emergency medical technicians transport a patient from a nursing home to an emergency room bed at St. Joseph's Hospital in Yonkers, N.Y. Nursing home residents account for nearly 1 in 10 of all the coronavirus cases in the United States and more than a quarter of the deaths, according to an Associated Press analysis of government data released Thursday, June 18. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
In this April 20, 2020, file photo, emergency medical technicians transport a patient from a nursing home to an emergency room bed at St. Joseph's Hospital in Yonkers, N.Y. Nursing home residents account for nearly 1 in 10 of all the coronavirus cases in the United States and more than a quarter of the deaths, according to an Associated Press analysis of government data released Thursday, June 18. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File) (John Minchillo/AP)

The recent letter to the editor, “Many nursing home deaths from asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19 could have been avoided” (July 27), certainly raises a number of questions as to who is responsible for the tragic loss of life in nursing homes. Based on what was known about the virus at the end of January and the tragic experience at the nursing home in Seattle, Washington, I am certain that the nursing home industry would have advised all its members to take special precautions to quarantine the residents, test all staff on a regular ongoing basis, test the residents on a regular basis, provide protective gear for staff and residents and close down visits from family and friends. It is odd that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services did not issue updated guidelines until April, however. That is no reason why nursing homes could not have institute precautions on their own. I believe that many nursing homes did, in fact, take steps to safeguard their residents from the asymptomatic carriers and have had few-to-zero deaths of residents.

What also should have been apparent to the nursing home industry is that their staff and residents should have had priority access to testing and protective gear given what was known in January and early February.

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Blame for the high incidence of COVID-19 deaths should start with the individual nursing homes along with poor allocation of resources by state health departments as well as government on the local and national level. It should also be obvious that the the highly-contagious nature of this virus overwhelmed the available resources. Had all levels of government listened to the experts, maybe we would have been better prepared.

John Hergenroeder, Timonium

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