Gov. Ted Lamont

The state of Connecticut will pay a research firm $450,000 to conduct an independent review of the state’s COVID-19 response in assisted living communities and nursing homes, Gov. Ned Lamont announced Tuesday.

Lamont had ordered the review last month after noting that long-term care settings were particularly hard hit by the virus. More than 60% of total COVID-19 deaths in the state were residents of such facilities — there have been more than 2,500 resident deaths and more than 8,500 cases in a population of just over 21,000, according to the state. 

“The tragedies that occurred deserve a thorough examination, and we have an obligation to those who live in those facilities, their families and the incredible professionals who care for residents to provide answers as to what could have been done differently to mitigate the spread of the virus,” Lamont said. “We must learn everything we can from our experience over the last few months so we can apply that knowledge to implement best practices in our long-term care facilities as we prepare for a possible second wave of the virus.”

According to the state, Connecticut took several “aggressive” steps to contain these outbreaks, including discontinuing visitation in long-term care settings in early March, establishing dedicated COVID-19 recovery facilities to prevent COVID-19-positive people from re-entering long-term care facilities, and offering a $125 million aid package for nursing homes to support staff payment, infection control, personal protective equipment costs and other pandemic-related expenses. In May and June, the state facilitated testing of every nursing home resident who had not previously tested positive, and June 1, Connecticut became one of the first states to mandate weekly staff testing at assisted living communities, managed residential communities and nursing homes.

Princeton, NJ-based Mathematica Policy Research will compare the pandemic’s effects in Connecticut with other states, assess the impact throughout assisted living communities and nursing homes, identify best practices, review the state response and identify factors that affected the severity of the outbreak, including timeliness of response, rate of transmission, staffing challenges, PPE and testing availability, funding, communication and coordination, and other systemic issues.

Mathematica will look at data and interview representatives from the state Department of Public Health and Department of Social Services, legislators, residents and families, and long-term care experts and staff.

A final report is expected by the end of September.

In other coronavirus-related news:

  • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has ordered emergency COVID-19 testing of all employees and residents at the state’s assisted living communities and nursing homes. The order came hours after an outbreak of 43 residents and 15 staff members was announced at the Canyon Creek, a memory care community in Billings. The state previously has encouraged voluntary testing paid for by the state.
  • COVID-19 did not stop Senior Lifestyle residents from using the longest day of the year to participate in a virtual dance party. June 21, residents and employees joined in The Longest Dance to raise support and awareness for the 50 million people with Alzheimer’s. People at communities across the country submitted dance videos, inviting others to send in their own video footage to join the dance from a safe distance.