[LANSING, MI] – The latest release of AARP's Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard shows that both cases and deaths in nursing homes fell substantially in the four weeks ending February 14.
Although these rates are improving -- at a time of increased COVID vaccinations in long-term care facilities -- new infections and deaths in nursing homes are still above where they were in the summer of 2020.
Deaths of nursing home residents are one-third of what they were in the previous time period, dropping from a rate of 2.12 to .70 per 100 residents. New infections among residents and staff also declined to less than half of previous levels. Resident cases fell from 6.1 to 2.3 per 100 residents, and new staff cases declined from 5.9 to 2.3 per 100 residents.
The dashboard also reveals that nursing home staffing remains a significant problem. In Michigan, 36.8% of facilities reported a shortage of nurses or aides in the most recent time period, only slightly lower than the prior period. Since AARP began tracking this data, at least one in 4 nursing homes has reported a staffing shortage during each 4-week period.
The number of facilities reporting a shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) remained at 15.8%, the same percentage as the previous period. These nursing homes did not have a one-week supply in the last month.
"One year into the coronavirus pandemic, we continue to see concerning numbers of cases and deaths in Michigan’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities," said Paula D. Cunningham, AARP Michigan State Director. "Decreasing numbers and vaccine rollout give hope, but we should not lose sight of the chronic, ongoing problems in our long-term care system that were exposed by COVID."
Every person who wants a coronavirus vaccine who lives in a skilled nursing facility in Michigan has had the chance to get at least a first dose, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical officer, stated last month in written testimony to the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.
AARP Michigan will continue fighting for reforms that make nursing homes safe and provide options for seniors to stay in their homes. Specifically, AARP Michigan urges state lawmakers and the Governor to:
· Enact or make permanent the components of AARP's five-point plan:
- Prioritize regular and ongoing testing and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for residents and staff—as well as for inspectors and any visitors.
- Improve 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.
- Ensure access to in-person visitation following federal and state guidelines for safety, and require continued access to virtual visitation for all residents.
- Ensure quality care for residents through adequate staffing, oversight, and access to in-person formal advocates, called long-term care Ombudsmen.
- Reject immunity and hold long-term care facilities accountable when they fail to provide adequate care to residents.
A nursing home task force appointed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020 focused on many of these areas.
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.
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, www.aarp.org/espanol or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspanol and @AARPadvocates, @AliadosAdelante on social media.