Helena, Mont., Aug 13, 2021 — Cases of COVID rose among Montana 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. Resident cases increased from 0.3 to 0.62 per 100 residents, and new staff cases increased from 0.8 to 0.88 per 100 residents.
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. More than 494 residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in Montana have died from COVID-19 – representing around 30% of deaths, even though less than 1% of the population lives in these facilities nationally. More than 280 facilities in Montana have had known COVID-19 cases.
Nationally, 60% of health care workers in nursing homes were fully vaccinated and about 82% of residents were fully vaccinated as of the week ending July 18. Here in Montana, 58.3% of staff have been fully vaccinated and 85.7% of residents. Interestingly vaccinations rates among staff decreased one percentage point but vaccination rates among residents increased by almost 1.5 percentage points.
The data also shows that only 13.2% of Montana nursing homes meets an industry benchmark of having at least 75% of staff fully vaccinated. Down from 16.7% over the four weeks ending July 18.
“The high COVID death rates of residents and staff in nursing homes is alarming. As new variants emerge, long-term care facilities cannot let preventable problems be repeated. The key is to increase vaccinations as soon as possible,” said Tim Summers, AARP Montana State Director. “Right now, the trend is heading in the wrong direction. AARP strongly encourages both staff and residents to get their vaccinations now. The lower levels of staff vaccinations in particular creates a very avoidable level of risk, since the disease spreads so easily in these environments. And facilities must work to ensure that as many residents are vaccinated as possible, including providing vaccines to newly admitted residents.”
In Montana, shortages of staff rose slightly from the last AARP dashboard, with 22.7% of nursing homes reporting a staff shortage (increasing from 19%) while the need for PPE declined with no nursing homes reporting an urgent need -- declining from 6.3% since the last reporting period.
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 Montana 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 Montanans 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.
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.
About AARP Montana:
For nearly 50 years, AARP has been working right here in big sky country to improve the lives of the 50 plus. As a non-profit organization, AARP Montana advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. By fighting on issues that matter most to Montana families and providing trusted information, we’re helping to empower Montanans to choose how they live as they age. Today, nearly 148,000 strong, AARP Montana is one of the largest membership organizations in the state. As a nonpartisan organization, AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political action committees, campaigns or candidates. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org/MT or follow @AARPMontana on social media.