As COVID-19 spread across Texas in March, it became clear that the virus would batter the state’s 1,200 or so nursing homes, where some of the most vulnerable Texans were crammed together in largely understaffed, unprotected facilities. Five months later, nearly 9,000 nursing home residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and 1,100 have died from the pandemic.
What wasn’t clear, however, is which facilities had been exposed to the virus. Texas officials refused to release the information, even though doing so would have helped family members make crucial decisions for their loved ones, says Amanda Fredriksen, the associate state director of AARP Texas. Residents and their families “need to know what they’re facing, and not all facilities are doing a good job communicating what’s going on in the facility,” she says.