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New RI Nursing Home Data is Cause for Concern

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New AARP Analysis: Only 54% of Nursing Home Residents and 19% of Staff in Rhode Island Have Received COVID-19 Booster; AARP calls for increased boosters in nursing homes

Only 54% of nursing home residents in Rhode Island and just 19% of nursing home staff had received a COVID-19 booster as of mid-November, according to the latest data from AARP’s Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard.

With holiday gatherings on the horizon, these numbers are a cause for concern, as more than a year and a half into the pandemic, rates of COVID-19 cases in nursing homes are rising again nationally, along with increased community spread.  While case rates declined slightly compared to the same time period last month, in AARP’s dashboard, looking week to week, the number of cases increased each week during the four weeks ending November 21.

In Rhode Island, resident cases from a rate of 0.64 per 100 residents in mid-October to 1.19 in mid-November. Staff cases decreased slightly from a rate of 0.96 to 0.82 during this same time period. Nursing home resident deaths from coronavirus slightly from a rate of 0.06 in mid-October to 0.11 in mid-November.

“COVID-19 continues to infiltrate America’s nursing homes with more than 1,500 new nursing home resident deaths nationally for the third consecutive month” said Catherine Taylor, State Director of AARP Rhode Island, which serves more than 132,000 members age 50 and older in the Ocean State. “Increasing vaccination rates—including boosters — among nursing home residents and staff is key to protecting our loved ones and getting the pandemic under control.

“AARP calls on nursing homes, state and federal authorities, and others to increase access to and receipt of COVID-19 boosters for both nursing home staff and residents,” Taylor added.

“As new variants emerge and vaccine immunity wanes, the low number of residents and staff who have received a booster creates an unacceptable level of risk since the disease spreads so easily in these environments. AARP Rhode Island strongly urges Gov. Dan McKee to prioritize the state’s most vulnerable population and take immediate action to addresses the relatively low percentage of nursing home residents and staff who have not received COVID-19 booster shots.”

While the percentage of residents and staff who have received boosters remain low, rates of those fully vaccinated—those who have received two COVID-19 shots—continue to slowly rise as of November 21. In Rhode Island, 99.10% of nursing home staff are fully vaccinated (the highest rate of any state in the nation) and 94.10% of nursing home residents.

The number of Rhode Island facilities reporting a shortage of nurses or aides rose sharply from 34.7% to 41.7% in the four weeks ending November 21. 

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 coronavirus is impacting nursing homes and AARP’s advocacy on this issue, visit www.aarp.org/nursinghomes. Medicare.gov’s Care Compare website now offers information about vaccination rates within nursing homes and how they compare to state and national averages.

About AARP

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.

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