COVID-19 cases and deaths in nursing homes rise
Published 10:00 am Friday, July 22, 2022
New data indicate rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths in America’s nursing homes rose substantially in June for the second month in a row, ending several months of decline from the peak of the initial Omicron wave in January 2022 and heightening concerns that a new surge is upon us.
The rate of nursing home resident deaths nationwide increased by more than 50% in the four-week period ending June 19, according to AARP’s Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard, compared to the previous dashboard release, with more than 750 resident deaths reported.
In Virginia, resident deaths were up from a rate of .04 per 100 residents in the previous four-week period ending May 22, to .06 in the four-week period ending June 19. Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 3,000 nursing home residents in Virginia have died from COVID-19.
Furthermore, the rate of resident cases nationwide increased by 27%, compared to the previous four weeks, according to the dashboard, while the rate of staff cases nationwide increased by 42% during the same reporting period.
Nursing home resident cases in Virginia were up from a rate of 2.74 per 100 residents in the previous four-week period ending May 22, to 4.14 in the four-week period ending June 19. The rate of staff cases was up from 2.29 per 100 residents to 3.81 compared to the previous dashboard release.
“Our loved ones in nursing homes are among our most vulnerable,” said David DeBiasi, advocacy director for AARP Virginia, which serves more than 1 million members age 50 and older in the Commonwealth. “Rising deaths and cases of COVID-19 among nursing home residents and staff nationally show that for their sakes, we must remain vigilant, and we must hold nursing homes accountable for providing high quality care and safe environments.”
The latest data from the AARP COVID-19 Nursing Home Dashboard shows that as of June 19, 74% of nursing home residents in Virginia were fully vaccinated with at least one booster dose, and a slight increase from mid-May. Among nursing home staff, nearly 50% are fully vaccinated with at least one booster dose, a slight increase from mid-May.
Nationwide, about 29% of nursing homes reported a staffing shortage in the four weeks ending June 19. The percentage of facilities in Virginia reporting a shortage of nurses or aides was 34% in the four weeks ending June 19.
AARP is fighting for minimum hourly nursing standards in Virginia that would ensure quality care and help address workforce shortages by requiring that nursing homes provide at least 4.1 hours of nurse and aide care per resident per day. AARP also supports measures that would increase training, wages, and benefits for employees of Virginia’s 288 nursing homes, who care for more than 30,000 Virginians.
Advocates for Virginia’s more than 30,000 nursing home residents have been asking the General Assembly for minimum hourly staffing standards for 20 years. During the 2022 session House Bill 646, which would have required minimum staffing ratios, failed to advance.
“We know higher levels of nurse staffing add up to better quality care for residents in multiple areas, including decreased infections, fewer bed sores and lower mortality rates,” DeBiasi said. “AARP is fighting here in Virginia for critical legislation that addresses staffing inadequacies and other chronic issues in nursing homes. AARP also supports the establishment of mandatory federal minimum staffing levels or standards as a condition for participation in Medicare and Medicaid.”
The AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard analyzes federally reported data in four-week periods going back to June 1, 2020. Using this data, the AARP Public Policy Institute, in collaboration with the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Ohio, created the Dashboard to provide snapshots of the virus’ infiltration into nursing homes and impact on nursing home residents and staff, with the goal of identifying specific areas of concern at the national and state levels in a timely manner.
The full AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard is available at www.aarp.org/nursinghomedashboard. Medicare.gov’s Care Compare website now offers information about vaccination and booster rates within individual nursing homes and how they compare to state and national averages.
For more information on how coronavirus is impacting nursing homes and AARP’s advocacy on this issue, visit www.aarp.org/nursinghomes.