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The Full Impact Of COVID In California’s VA Nursing Homes Remains Murky

A thumb presses against camouflage clothing near a logo that reads USMC
A new report provides some insight into COVID cases at VA nursing homes.
(Brian Feinzimer
/
for LAist)
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Last year, Congress passed a law requiring the Department of Veterans Affairs to disclose how many veterans got sick and died from the coronavirus in VA nursing homes. The department released some data last week, but it’s incomplete.

The report covers two types of facilities for veterans: nursing homes and assisted living centers. Nationwide, almost 1,500 residents and 54 staff members have died of COVID-19 in those facilities.The tally starts in May 2020 and doesn’t include the first few months of the pandemic, and is likely to rise as more data is reported.

In California, at least 149 residents at VA nursing homes have been infected with COVID-19, some as recently as October. Deaths were reported at Veterans Home of California in West Los Angeles and Chula Vista. The total number of veteran deaths at each of those facilities was 10 or fewer, but the VA did not release the exact number, citing patient privacy.

There have been 486 reported cases among staff at VA nursing homes statewide since May 2020. The Veterans Home of California in West L.A. was the only facility to report staff deaths, but again the VA didn’t release a specific number.

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The VA released even less data on homes that are more like assisted living centers. Across the state there have been 62 total cases among staff members, while cases were reported among veterans at four facilities, including the Veterans Home of California locations in Chula Vista, Yountville and Fresno, as well as at the William J. “Pete” Knight Vets Home in Lancaster. The Fresno location had 16 reported cases among veterans, while each of the other facilities had at most 10 cases, though the total number wasn’t specified.

Specifically dedicated to caring for elderly U.S. veterans, the homes are financed under the VA, but run by state governments or the contractors they hire.

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