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Information needed

One would hope that nursing home administrators would inform potential residents and their families of the presence of COVID-19 in the facilities. No doubt most would do that.

Apparently the practice is not universal. A few days ago, The Associated Press reported that, “A woman in the Columbus area said her mother was admitted to a nursing home near the end of March without knowing an employee there had tested positive just days earlier.” A week later, the woman’s mother left the nursing home after she was diagnosed with the coronavirus. It is not known where she contracted the disease.

Nursing homes are prime hunting grounds for COVID-19, because their residents are elderly, often with underlying medical conditions. From throughout the nation have come reports of multiple COVID-19 deaths in such facilities.

Yet public health officials often release little — if any — information about the coronavirus in long-term care centers.

Some counties are forthcoming. Last Friday, the Wayne County Health Department revealed 10 residents and 10 staff members at a nursing home in Wooster had tested positive. Five died.

Many Ohio counties are not releasing any COVID-19 information about nursing homes, the AP reported. Why? Concern over patients’ privacy? Revealing mere numbers on COVID-19 would not imperil anyone’s privacy.

Concern over harming a nursing home’s business? Ridiculous, given the many locked-down businesses that are suffering.

Why, then?

Even some nursing home officials want more information. A trade-group executive explained to the AP that one concern is a nursing home accepting a transfer from another facility where COVID-19 is present.

At least 45 Ohio nursing home residents and/or staff members have succumbed to COVID-19. Clearly, it is a serious threat to the older and infirm Ohioans entrusted to long-term care facilities by loved ones. Local and state officials should be more forthcoming about how the coronavirus is affecting nursing homes. It may be a matter of life or death for some Ohio residents.

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