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New AARP Analysis Shows Nursing Home Vaccination Rates in Louisiana Still Well Short of Benchmark

Female doctor consoling senior woman wearing face mask during home visit
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Cases of COVID rose slightly among Louisiana nursing home residents and staff over the four weeks ending July 18, according to the latest release of AARP’s Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard.

The increases are concerning given the rise of new variants, the gaps in vaccinations among those in nursing homes, and the disproportionate numbers of deaths due to COVID-19 and high risk in nursing homes throughout the pandemic. Almost 3000 residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in Louisiana have died from COVID-19 – representing around 26% of deaths, even though less than 1% of the population lives in these facilities.

While vaccination rates had increased several percentage points in the past month, they remain low compared to goals, at around 80.9% among residents and 44% among staff. Only 7.1% of nursing homes had at least 75% of staff vaccinated, which is the benchmark goal the industry has set for vaccinations in facilities.

“The high COVID death rates of residents and staff in nursing homes has been a national disgrace. As the new variants are emerging, facilities cannot let preventable problems be repeated. The key is to increase vaccinations, and do it now,” said Denise Bottcher, AARP Louisiana State Director. “AARP is calling on nursing homes to require vaccinations for both staff and residents.  The low levels of staff vaccinations in particular creates an unacceptable level of risk, since the disease spreads so easily in these environments. And facilities must ensure all residents are vaccinated, including providing vaccines to newly admitted residents. Facilities must be open and transparent with how they are progressing toward the vital goal of vaccination for all staff and residents.”

In Louisiana, shortages of staff decreased slightly from the last AARP dashboard. However, shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) rose slightly from the last AARP dashboard, with 3.4% noting an urgent need for more PPE.

AARP Louisiana continues to fight to protect nursing home residents and ensure long-term care facilities provide high-quality care. If you have an older spouse, sibling, parent or other loved one in a nursing home, here are eight key questions to ask, as recommended by experts:

  • How far along are COVID-19 vaccinations?
  • Has anyone in the facility tested positive for COVID-19 in the past two weeks?
  • What is the facility doing to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks?
  • How are staff and other people entering the facility being screened for COVID-19
  • What is the nursing home doing to help residents stay connected with their families or other loved ones during this time?
  • How is the facility communicating important information to residents and their loved ones on a regular basis?
  • Is the nursing home currently at full staffing levels for nurses, aides and other workers?
  •  How are healthy-living programs being maintained?

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 Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard is available at http://www.aarp.org/nursinghomedashboard.

AARP is providing information and resources about COVID-19 to help older Louisianans and has developed key questions for families to ask if a loved one is in a nursing home. 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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