More than 200 cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed in residents and staff at nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Cambridge, Massachusetts, health officials announced Monday.
A total of 212 people have tested positive for COVID-19. The test results were reported over the weekend by the Broad Institute, which launched a pilot program on April 9 with the city to test all residents, health care workers and staff at Cambridge's seven nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
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The data did not specify how many of those who tested positive were residents and how many were employees. That information is expected to be available at a later date.
"Older people are more susceptible to COVID-19 and are going to have more serious infections if they do become ill," said Dr. Daniel Kuritzkes, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women's Hospital.
Kuritzkes says it's not surprising that the virus is spreading at senior care facilities, adding that people coming and going throughout the day is a big problem.
"Many elder people need significant hands-on care in order to be able to take care of their daily life, which means there are lots of people who come in contact with them, between the workers of the facilities and the visitors," he said. "That creates a real challenge."
The Cambridge Health Department said it has alerted state health officials and are working to provide guidance to the facilities on putting patients who tested positive together and those who have tested negative together, apart from positive cases.
“The goal of rapid identification of positive cases is to break the chain of transmission in these facilities and ultimately reduce the number of people who become infected,” said Claude A. Jacob, the city’s chief public health officer and director of the Cambridge Public Health Department.
In addition to the 212 nursing home cases, another 256 Cambridge residents have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Overall, there are now more than 25,000 cases in Massachusetts, including 756 deaths.