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AARP Report: Michigan Nursing Home Death Rates Remain High, Case Rates Fall

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[LANSING] – The latest release of AARP's Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard shows that the crisis in these facilities in Michigan continues, despite incremental improvements in the number of deaths and substantial reductions in new infections. 

From December 21 to January 17, the rate of coronavirus cases per 100 residents declined from 11.0 to 6.1 among residents and 10.6 to 5.9 among staff. While cases are lower than in the previous time period, they remain at some of the highest found in AARP's dashboard, with significantly more new cases than were reported in the summer and fall. 

Meanwhile, resident death rates dipped slightly, from 2.17 to 2.12 deaths for every 100 people living in a nursing home. Meanwhile, resident death rates, while dipping slightly, remain staggering at 2.12 per 100 residents.

The report pre-dates the start of COVID vaccination in nursing homes.

 The dashboard found that staffing and PPE shortages also decreased but remain a significant problem. Shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) have declined over the same period, from 17.3% of nursing homes without a one-week supply in November/December to 15.8% from late December to mid-January. Any nursing home without a one-week supply of PPE is concerning. 

Meanwhile, staffing shortages decreased somewhat but remain a concern, with 37% of facilities reporting a shortage in the most recent dashboard compared t0 42% in last month’s report.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 4,975 residents and staff in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have died, and nearly 39,000 people are known to have been infected with coronavirus in these 717 facilities.

AARP has been working with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state lawmakers to protect nursing home residents and staff from COVID-19. 

"We are approaching the one-year anniversary of the first known coronavirus cases in nursing homes, yet the number of deaths and cases in these facilities remains high,’ said Paula D. Cunningham, AARP Michigan State President. “Numbers were headed in the right direction in the latest report but the pandemic has brought devastation and we cannot lower our guard."

"The nursing home industry in Michigan has struggled with quality care and infection control for years.”

AARP continues to urge elected officials to act immediately, focusing this year on [select 1-5 bullet points]:

 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.
"Additionally, our leaders must reject policies that take away the rights of residents to hold nursing homes accountable when they fail to provide adequate care,” Cunningham said. “Now is not the time to let nursing homes off the hook for abuse, neglect, and even death.”

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  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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