CDC: Health care-associated infections up amid COVID-19 pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the health care sector has experienced an increase in infections, another grim announcement to an industry impacted severely by the pandemic.

"We know the COVID-19 pandemic has placed tremendous stress on the health care sector, from hospitals to nursing homes to outpatient clinics," Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said in a press briefing Friday. 

Last week, the CDC published data from more than 3,000 hospitals showing that infections people contracted while in hospitals went up in 2020, after going down for several years in a row.


Dr. Rochelle Walensky, President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to head the Centers for Disease Control, speaks during a news conference at the Queen Theater December 08, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.

"In the context of COVID, multiple studies have shown that there have been substantial increases in health care-associated infections during the pandemic, reversing key national progress made prior to 2020," Walensky continued.

As of Friday, the seven-day average of coronavirus cases has climbed to about 147,000 per day. Meanwhile, daily deaths have increased to more than 1,400 and have increased 17.4% compared with the previous seven-day moving average.

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"The pandemic and these key studies have reminded us about the importance of preventing all infections - not just COVID - and this is especially critical in our highest risk patients in nursing homes and hospitals," Walensky continued. 

In response to this, today, the CDC announced a $2.1 billion dollar investment from the American Rescue Plan to strengthen infection prevention and control activities across the U.S. public health care sectors.

Over the next three years, the CDC will issue awards totaling $1.25 billion to 64 state, local and territorial health departments to accelerate infection control efforts and prevention control. 

Walenksy said these resources will be "pivotal" to ending this pandemic. 

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"We know that these facilities not only care for high-risk individuals, but they are the very facilities that have been hit hardest by the pandemic," Walensky said. "The bottom line is this: Infection prevention and control saves lives across the health care sector, whether stopping the spread of Sars-CoV-2 or containing the spread of many other infectious diseases." 

This story was reported from Los Angeles.