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COVID-19 Deaths and Cases in Michigan Nursing Homes Increased Substantially in Three Months

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[LANSING, MI] – The latest release of AARP’s Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard depicts a worsening crisis from coast to coast, including Michigan.

In the four-week period ending December 20, 61.4% of nursing homes in Michigan reported residents with confirmed cases of coronavirus, and 88.9% with at least one staff member diagnosed.

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

· New confirmed cases among residents increased from 0.8 to 11 per 100 residents;

· New confirmed cases among staff increased from 1.5 to 10.6 per 100 residents;

· Deaths among residents increased from 0.06 to 2.17 per 100 residents.

On a somewhat positive note, shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) have declined over the same period from 30.5% of nursing homes without a one-week supply in September to 17.3% in December. Meanwhile, staffing shortages remain a concern, with 42.2% of facilities reporting a shortage in the most recent dashboard, increasing gradually from 34.3% in September.

“Almost a year into the pandemic, nursing home residents and staff remain highly vulnerable to coronavirus,” said Paula D. Cunningham, AARP Michigan Director. “While vaccines will not make nursing home residents safe overnight, this dashboard underscores the urgency of vaccinating residents and staff as quickly as possible. Also, given that most nursing homes reported staff infections and resident cases, it is alarming that some facilities still do not have adequate PPE.”

Cunningham added, “The continuing coronavirus crisis in nursing homes also spotlights the life-and-death need for fundamental reforms, now.”

AARP continues to urge elected officials to act immediately, focusing this year on enacting or making permanent the components of AARP’s five-point plan:

  • Prioritizing regular and ongoing testing and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for residents and staff—as well as inspectors and any visitors.
  • Improving transparency focused on daily, public reporting of cases and deaths in facilities; communication with families about discharges and transfers; and accountability for state and federal funding that goes to facilities.
  • Ensuring access to in-person visitation following federal and state guidelines for safety, and require continued access to virtual visitation for all residents.
  • Ensuring quality care for residents through adequate staffing, oversight, and access to in-person formal advocates, called long-term care Ombudsmen.
  • Providing supplemental staff wages and benefits.

These recommendations are similar to those put forth last summer by the Michigan Nursing Homes COVID-19 Preparedness Task Force. Some have been implemented. AARP Michigan had a representative on the task force.
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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AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation’s largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.

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