Lawsuits Ask: Who’s To Blame For COVID Deaths At Nursing Homes?

There’s no database of case filings, but a COVID-19 complaint tracker posted on the website of the law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth, which is headquartered in Virginia, shows 55 wrongful death lawsuits filed against long-term care facilities across the country as of early September.

ABA Journal:
Coronavirus-Related Deaths In Nursing Homes Prompt Lawsuits And Questions About Who’s Responsible

[Faith] Heimbrodt’s case is one of a growing number of negligence suits being filed across the country against nursing homes and other long-term care facilities by families whose relatives died from the coronavirus while living in such facilities. These cases rely on state nursing home resident protection statutes and/or common law tort theories. … these cases will present unprecedented questions for judges, juries and arbitrators. They will have to decide whether and how to apportion responsibility for the deaths of the nation’s most medically vulnerable population among long-term care operators who were scrambling in the midst of the chaos and confusion during the worst public health emergency in a century. (Meyer, 9/28)

In other public health news about the coronavirus —

Kaiser Health News:
Corralling The Facts On Herd Immunity

For a term that’s at least 100 years old, “herd immunity” has gained new life in 2020. It starred in many headlines last month, when reports surfaced that a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force and adviser to the president, Dr. Scott Atlas, recommended it as a strategy to combat COVID-19. The Washington Post reported that Atlas, a health care policy expert from the Hoover Institution of Stanford University, suggested the virus should be allowed to spread through the population so people build up immunity, rather than trying to contain it through shutdown measures. (Pattani, 9/29)

The New York Times:
‘It’s Not In My Head’: They Survived The Coronavirus, But They Never Got Well 

They caught the coronavirus months ago and survived it, but they are still stuck at home, gasping for breath. They are no longer contagious, but some feel so ill that they can barely walk around the block, and others grow dizzy trying to cook dinner. Month after month, they rush to the hospital with new symptoms, pleading with doctors for answers. As the coronavirus has spread through the United States over seven months, infecting at least seven million people, some subset of them are now suffering from serious, debilitating and mysterious effects of Covid-19 that last far longer than a few days or weeks. (Mervosh, 9/28)

The Wall Street Journal:
Four Different Family Members. Four Different Covid-19 Outcomes. 

The Ruspini family in Sunnyvale, Calif., went down like dominoes. One by one, they all got the coronavirus in early April, but with different symptoms and recovery trajectories. Diego Ruspini, a 53-year-old computer scientist with a history of asthma, was hospitalized for a week in early April, and coped with respiratory issues and fatigue until August. His wife, Connie Lares, a 48-year-old medical interpreter at Stanford Children’s Hospital, had a couple of weeks of low-grade fever, body aches, diarrhea and hot flashes. By June she felt well enough to hike a 14,500-foot mountain. (Reddy, 9/28)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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