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Long-Term Care Facility COVID-19 Outbreaks Drop To Zero In Iowa

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Arbor Springs
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A resident of Arbor Springs nursing home in West Des Moines gets the Pfizer COVID-10 vaccine on Dec. 28.

For the first time since last March, no long-term care facilities in Iowa are reporting COVID-19 outbreaks.

State officials are reporting as of Thursday morning, there are no COVID-19 outbreaks in the state’s long-term care facilities.

This marks a significant milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, which has devastated long-term care facilities across the state. It's the first time since last March, none of the state’s 430 nursing homes and 250 assisted living facilities is experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak.

Lori Ristau, the senior vice president of strategic communications at the Iowa Health Care Association, which represents many of the state's nursing homes, said 89 percent of the state’s nursing homes had at least one COVID-19 case.

"We got to the peak of the virus about November, December, and at that time, we had 167 facilities battling the virus in their buildings," she said. "So getting to zero today is a tremendous, tremendous progress."

The outbreaks took a huge toll on long-term care facilities. According to state data, 2,225 long-term care residents have died from COVID-19.

"Even though long term care residents account for less than 1 percent of the population of the state, when it came to COVID, they accounted for nearly half of the deaths from the virus," she said.

Long-term residents and staff were among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine starting in December.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Gov. Kim Reynolds said the long-term care federal pharmacy partnership is expected to finish fully vaccinating all facilities by the end of this month.

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter