Rory Linnane and Daphne Chen, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, USA TODAY NETWORK -- WISCONSIN
|Mark Weber of Milwaukee's mother, Candace Weber age 69, is being cared for at BRIA Trinity Village. (Photo: Michael Sears / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)|
More than a month after nursing homes emerged as deadly hotspots in the nation’s battle against COVID-19, Wisconsin citizens remain in the dark about which long-term care facilities are the most dangerous.
Unlike some other states, Wisconsin has not disclosed the number of cases and deaths that have occurred in long-term care facilities, the names of those homes or how the virus made its way into the facilities in the first place.
When the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel asked for the information, state health department spokesperson Jennifer Miller said the agency would not name specific facilities “due to privacy concerns.”
“I can tell you, public health follows up with everyone who tests positive, working with each patient to determine who they may have been in contact with to isolate, quarantine, or test when appropriate,” Miller wrote in an email.
The lack of transparency could have far-reaching ramifications: Nursing home residents are a particularly high-risk population, with many medically fragile patients living in close quarters and interacting with staff who help them dress, bathe, eat and brush their teeth.
Some county health officials also would not release key information.
In Dane County last week, health department spokesperson Sarah Mattes said the agency would not disclose how many long-term care facilities had confirmed coronavirus cases.