With skilled nursing homes hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday signed a law requiring those facilities in California to report disease-related deaths to health authorities within 24 hours during declared emergencies.
The law was written in response to concerns that health agencies were slow to respond to outbreaks in skilled nursing facilities because they did not receive timely information about them.
So far, more than 5,630 residents and staff at skilled nursing facilities in the state have died from COVID-19 — 36% of California’s fatalities from the coronavirus. The percentage “reveals the significant weaknesses in the reporting system currently required by these facilities,” said Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg), who introduced the legislation.
COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred at some 1,164 skilled nursing homes and 379 assisted-living facilities in California, according to the state Department of Public Health. The spread at such facilities is alarming to health officials, who note that the virus is especially deadly for the elderly and for those with underlying medical problems.
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