Less than one percent of Americans live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, but the residents of these homes still make up about one-third of all Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths in the United States.
This is according to an analysis conducted by the COVID Tracking Project, an organization launched by The Atlantic. This project has collected coronavirus data from all 50 states, the five territories and the District of Columbia in order to “understand the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States.”
According to the COVID Tracking Project, of the 551,747 people in the country who have supposedly died due to the coronavirus so far, about 175,000 of those deaths – or 31.7 percent – were nursing home residents. (Related: NY nursing home whistleblower: Cuomo’s order to take coronavirus patients back into nursing homes was “ridiculous.”)
The analysis further found that nearly one in 10 people who live in nursing homes died of COVID-19 as of March 2021, and nearly one in 12 for residents of long-term care facilities.
From the earliest days of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., health officials have recognized that the people living in nursing homes and long-term care facilities were among the most vulnerable populations in the country.
The residents in these homes are usually older, have chronic conditions and have compromised immune systems. They also live in very close quarters – if even one person were to be infected, then the virus will most likely spread throughout the facility. This puts nursing home residents not only at a higher risk of not only contracting the virus but also of experiencing complications, hospitalization and even death.
There have been coronavirus outbreaks in at least 31,000 nursing homes and long-term care facilities throughout the country, infecting more than 1.2 million residents and facility staff. By June 2020, nursing home residents accounted for 43 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in the country, when the death toll was around 126,000.
According to the COVID Tracking Project, the current figures regarding nursing home deaths are most likely undercounted. They claim this is because a lot of the data does not include deaths from the earliest parts of the pandemic.
Furthermore, federal data on coronavirus deaths in care homes only covers “skilled nursing facilities.” There is no federal or state-level database regarding the approximately 800,000 people who live in residential care communities, like assisted living facilities.
“We believe that the true toll of the pandemic among these workers and especially residents is higher than these figures can show,” wrote the members of the Project on their website.
Despite the concerns of the COVID Tracking Project, the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) published a report on Tuesday, March 30, claiming that cases in American nursing homes and other long-term care facilities were at their lowest since May 2020.
The report was based on data gathered from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which had data on nursing home cases from May 2020 up to March 7, 2021. The data showed a 96 percent decline in nursing home cases and a 91 percent decline in coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes since Dec. 2020.
“We are not out of the woods yet, but these numbers are incredibly encouraging and a more morale boost for frontline caregivers who have been working tirelessly for more than a year to protect our residents,” said AHCA/NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson.
“This trend shows that when long-term care is prioritized … we can protect our vulnerable elderly population.”
From March 1 to 7, nursing homes nationwide reported only 547 deaths, down from 6,037 deaths during the peak week from Dec. 14 to 20.
Learn more about how the coronavirus pandemic affected people residing in nursing homes, long-term care facilities and other assisted living centers by reading the latest articles at Pandemic.news.