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New AARP Analysis Shows COVID-19 Cases Rise: Nebraska Nursing Homes Face Critical PPE and Staff Shortages

As COVID-19 cases in Nebraska continue to climb, AARP renewed its call for Gov. Pete Ricketts and legislators to better protect nursing home residents and staff from the coronavirus.

Nursing home staff and resident
VIA GETTY IMAGES

The latest release of the AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard finds concerning trends in Nebraska’s nursing homes, including rising resident and staff cases and deaths, continuing shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), and rising staff shortages.

Using data released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services—which is self-reported by nursing homes—the AARP Public Policy Institute, in collaboration with the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Ohio, created the AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard to provide four-week snapshots of the virus’ infiltration into nursing homes and impact on nursing home residents and staff. This second dashboard aggregates and analyzes data from nursing homes covering three 4-week time intervals from mid-summer into fall: July 26-Aug. 23, Aug. 24-Sept. 20, and Sept. 21-Oct. 18.

For the period from Sept. 21-Oct. 18, AARP’s dashboard reports that Nebraska nursing homes had:

  • 3.4 COVID-19 cases per 100 residents, up from1.8 in the previous four-week period.
  • 0.45 COVID-19 deaths per 100 residents, up from 0.29.
  • 5.5 staff COVID-19 cases per 100 residents, up from 2.3.
  • 42 % of nursing homes with staffing shortages, up from 35.8 %.
  • 27.1 % of nursing homes without a 1-week supply of PPE, close to the previous four-week period of 27.5%.

“Nine months since COVID-19 entered nursing homes, cases are rising again, and facilities still don’t have the PPE and staffing needed to protect residents,” said AARP Nebraska State Director Todd Stubbendieck. “This is a tragedy that must be addressed. Our state leaders need to act to keep residents safe and ensure nursing homes are taking the necessary measures to protect our most vulnerable population.”

AARP has called for the enactment of a plan to protect nursing home and long-term care facility residents:

  • Prioritize regular and ongoing testing and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for residents and staff—as well as 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. Last May, AARP Nebraska asked Gov. Ricketts to make public the names of nursing homes and assisted living communities with confirmed COVID-19 cases among residents and staff, but he has declined to take that action to date.
  • 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 for long-term care facilities related to COVID-19.

The AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard will continue to be updated every four weeks. The complete dashboard is available at aarp.org/nursinghomedashboard.

More resources and information on COVID-19 and nursing homes can be found at aarp.org/nursinghomes.

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