Nursing homes in Wisconsin are bracing for the state to release the names of long-term care facilities with positive cases of the novel coronavirus.
The public disclosure will come this week, perhaps as early as Monday.
As of Saturday afternoon, the state has reported 634 cases of COVID-19 at long-term care facilities, with 169 deaths. Overall in Wisconsin, there have been 398 coronavirus-related deaths. That means long-term care centers account for about 42% of the state’s deaths.
“For us, it’s no secret we have facilities in this state and every state in the nation that are battling COVID-19 that are trying to keep it out of their building and mitigating the spread,” said John Sauer, chief executive and president of LeadingAge Wisconsin, a statewide association of long-term care providers.
Live Updates: The latest on coronavirus in Wisconsin
Daily Digest: What you need to know about coronavirus in Wisconsin
Share Your Story: We want to talk to doctors, nurses and others affected by coronavirus
“This is not a list of failures,” Sauer said Saturday. “This is a list of facilities who have had a staff member or resident with COVID-19.”
Wisconsin Health Care Association and Wisconsin Center for Assisted Living are asking for a restrained public reaction when the long-term facilities’ identities are made public.
A spokesperson for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services said the upcoming release of the information is in line with an interim final rule published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Elizabeth Goodsitt said the information about COVID-19 cases among residents and staff will help “to monitor trends in infection rates and allows public health to conduct additional COVID-19 testing to identify cases and conduct contact tracing.”
She added: “The safety and well-being of those who live and work in long term care is a priority for DHS. And we know, people who live in skilled nursing facilities are among our most vulnerable when it comes to COVID-19 infections. DHS has opted to publish the names of skilled nursing facilities in order to provide peace of mind to families who cannot visit or check on their loved ones during these unprecedented times, and provide additional transparency about where infections may be occurring.”
The safety and well-being of large numbers of people also continue to be a thorny political issue, and this weekend the focus was back on the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, now scheduled for the week of Aug. 17.
During a Friday night interview with C-SPAN, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi floated an idea of how to stage the event during the pandemic.
She suggested holding the convention in a large stadium over one day so that attendees are able to practice social distancing.
Pelosi said she has made the suggestion to Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez but admitted the logistics would be challenging.
Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum is the main venue. The largest stadium in the metro area is Miller Park, with a seating capacity of 41,900.
“So my suggestion to Mr. Perez was get a gigantic stadium and put people six feet apart so maybe instead of having 80,000 people there you would have 16,000 people there and just do it all in one day,” she said.
Under this scenario, the daylong convention would pass a party platform and nominate the presidential and vice presidential candidates.
“Have your speeches and everyone would go home,” she said.
“The problem with it is the logistics,” she said. “You have to have many more buses to get people there.”
Joe Solmonese, chief executive officer of the Democratic National Convention Committee, said the party continues to prepare for all contingencies.
“Protecting the health and well-being of our host community and everyone involved with the convention will drive every decision we make as we put plans in place for August,” Solmonese said in a statement Saturday.
“As we continue to learn more about the coronavirus and the impact it’s having on our country, we’ll continue to follow the guidance of public health experts and adjust our contingency plans,” he said. “America has changed because of coronavirus, and we need to change with it, but I’m confident that we’ll be able to deliver a successful convention in Milwaukee this summer.”
In other developments, the coronavirus pandemic continued to have economic and cultural consequences.
The latest impact: Top coaches at the University of Wisconsin will take a pay cut and others will see hours reduced as part of the athletic department’s cost-cutting.
The department aims to save about $2.8 million.
The 2020 Miss Wisconsin competition set for Oshkosh has been postponed until next year, following the direction set by the Miss America Organization Board of Directors.
The local titleholders who would have competed in the 2020 Miss Wisconsin and Miss Wisconsin’s Outstanding Teen competitions will compete for Miss Wisconsin 2021 — if they decide to continue their reigns, according to the Miss Wisconsin Scholarship Organization.
Any current titleholder who would have aged-out by next year is still eligible to compete in 2021.
Natalie Brophy of USA TODAY-Network Wisconsin contributed to this article.
Read or Share this story: https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/2020/05/09/wisconsin-ready-name-long-term-care-centers-coronavirus-cases/3103734001/