Why Is There Still No Plan for Nursing Homes?
New data shows nursing homes continue to be overlooked and under-protected
A new report from the global public health initiative Resolve to Save Lives released Tuesday reveals that even though 40% of Covid-19 deaths in the United States have occurred among people living in long-term care facilities like nursing homes, coronavirus surveillance data on these facilities is lacking. Specifically, one-third of states do not report any data on outbreaks in congregate facilities (which includes nursing homes as well as homeless shelters and prisons), despite this being where some of the largest and deadliest outbreaks of the virus have occurred.
The report’s authors reviewed Covid-19 data dashboards for all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and found that there’s also little consistency in how data in these facilities is reported. There are some dashboards that report cases and deaths for both staff and residents while some only provide data for residents — despite the fact that staff members can easily spread the disease in their homes or other facilities they work in.
“This leaves communities without the information necessary to protect these vulnerable populations and can skew understanding of risk in the broader community,” former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director and current CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, Tom Frieden, MD, said in a newsletter statement about the report.
While southern and western states are now seeing comparable daily case counts to New York’s from March and April, the Empire State’s outbreak was so deadly precisely because it was so heavily concentrated in nursing homes. So far, nearly 6,500 of the state’s Covid-19 victims have been nursing home residents. Despite New York now being one of the few bright spots of low Covid-19 transmission, the nursing home issue bedevils the state’s politics with, as the New York Times reported on Thursday, Republicans criticizing the state’s Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo for a March directive that effectively ordered nursing homes to accept coronavirus-positive people from hospitals. Republicans blame this directive for why the outbreak was so deadly and widespread in the state’s nursing facilities. The Times reports: