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Analysis: COVID-19 in Nursing Homes Skyrocket

Nursing home staff and resident
VIA GETTY IMAGES

The latest release of AARP’s Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard depicts a worsening crisis from coast to coast, including COLORADO. In the four-week period ending December 20, 73.8% of nursing homes in Colorado reported residents with confirmed cases of coronavirus and 96.6% of nursing homes reported at least one staff member diagnosed, which was the third highest rate in the country and more than quadruple the September rate of 22.8%.

The rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Colorado nursing homes skyrocketed in the three months between September and December 2020. During that time, nursing homes reported that:

  • New confirmed cases among residents increased from 1.0 to 18.7 per 100 residents.
  • New confirmed cases among staff increased from 0.9 to 17.5 per 100 residents.
  • Deaths among residents increased from 0.17 to 3.68 per 100 residents.

Shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) have declined over the same period, from 0.284% of nursing homes without a one-week supply in September to 0.189% in December. Meanwhile, staffing shortages remain of some concern, with 0.398% of facilities reporting a shortage in the most recent dashboard, and little change going back to June 2020.
“We’re still seeing extraordinarily high numbers in cases and deaths among our loved ones and that is unacceptable, especially considering the tens of millions of dollars that came into the Colorado nursing home industry through the Cares Act and other federal stimulus funds since March,” said Bob Murphy, AARP Colorado State Director. “Where did that money go?”

While vaccines offer significant hope, they will not make nursing home residents safe overnight. This dashboard underscores the urgency of vaccinating residents and staff as quickly as possible while maintaining existing protections like mask wearing and physical distancing.”

AARP continues to urge elected officials to act immediately and:

  • Prioritize regular and ongoing testing and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for residents and staff — as well as inspectors and any visitors.
  • Ensure quality care for residents through adequate staffing, oversight and access to in-person formal advocates, called long-term care Ombudsmen.
  • Reject immunity for long-term care facilities related to COVID-19.
  • Increase Medicaid reimbursement with a requirement to direct more than 50% to staff and safety protocols.

The AARP COVID-19 Nursing Home Dashboard analyzes federally reported data in four-week periods going back to June 1, 2020. Earlier this year, AARP fought for public reporting of nursing home COVID-19 cases and deaths. 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 COVID-19 Nursing Home Dashboard is available at www.aarp.org/nursinghomedashboard. For more information on how COVID is impacting nursing homes and AARP’s advocacy on this issue, visit www.aarp.org/nursinghomes.

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