AARP AARP States Iowa

Analysis Shows Rate of COVID-19 Cases in Nursing Homes Quadrupled in Three Months

Des Moines – The latest release of AARP’s Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard depicts a worsening crisis from coast to coast, including Iowa. In the four-week period ending December 20, 84.1% of nursing homes in Iowa reported residents with confirmed cases of coronavirus.

The rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Iowa’s nursing homes have skyrocketed in the last three months. From September 2020 to December 2020, nursing homes reported that:

  • New confirmed cases among staff increased from 3.7 to 12.1 per 100 residents
  • New confirmed cases among residents increased from 2.1 to 12.5 per 100 residents
  • Deaths among residents increased from .41 to 3.39 per 100 residents

Staffing shortages remain a persistent problem, with 48.5% of facilities reporting a shortage in the most recent dashboard.

“Almost a year into the pandemic, far too many Iowa nursing home residents and staff remain trapped in a petri dish, nearly defenseless against coronavirus,” said Brad Anderson AARP Iowa State Director. “We share the urgency of all Iowans, especially 50+, who wish to receive vaccines now. While vaccines will not make nursing home residents safe overnight, this dashboard underscores the urgency of vaccinating residents and staff as quickly as possible.”

Anderson added, “We applaud health care heroes like Iowa’s direct care workers and appreciate hearing them named by Governor Reynolds in her State of the State, in what we believe is the first time ever. But they need to be more than applauded, they need better policies to support them and the Iowans they care for, both as individuals and as a whole.”

AARP Iowa urges elected officials to act immediately on these issues:

  • Improving accountability for Iowa funding that goes to nursing facilities so that Medicaid reimbursement, especially increases.
  • Address Iowa’s LTC staffing crisis by:
    • Establishing minimum staffing standards
    • Providing supplemental staff wages and benefits
    • Increase wages and compensation for staff in residential and home care settings
  • Tasking Iowa’s Long-term care Ombudsmen (or any other Iowa State Department) to develop Iowa’s public plan on how Iowa will better ensure quality care for residents through adequate staffing, oversight, and access to in-person formal advocates.
  • Ensure better access to in-person visitation, while following federal and Iowa guidelines for safety, and require access to virtual visitation for all residents.

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 Iowa 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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