AARP Eye Center
COVID-19 deaths and cases in America’s nursing homes dropped by about one-third nationwide in February. However, increases in cases and/or deaths in as many as a dozen states indicate the virus still poses a dangerous threat to some of our most vulnerable loved ones.
According to AARP's Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard, during the four weeks ending Feb. 19, the rate of COVID-19 resident deaths nationwide declined by 38% compared to the previous four weeks. Resident cases were down 35% during the same period, with staff cases down 31%. However, the death rates among residents were higher in 12 states for the four weeks ending Feb. 19 compared to the previous four weeks. Eleven states had an increase in resident and/ or staff cases during the same reporting period. Furthermore, weekly case rates nationwide during the dashboard period and the weeks following show that the national case rate is no longer declining and has held approximately constant through February.
Here in Virginia resident deaths are down by 34% in the four weeks ending Feb. 19, compared to the previous four weeks, with resident cases down 51% and staff cases down by 47% during the same period.
“While COVID is causing fewer people to get sick or die in Virginia, the nationwide numbers show the need for us to remain vigilant about protecting our loved ones in nursing homes from COVID-19,” said AARP Virginia State Director Jim Dau. “It is so very important that both residents and staff are up to date on vaccinations, including receiving the bivalent booster.”
The new data show “up-to-date” vaccination rates among nursing home residents nationwide continue to progress slowly while staff rates remain stalled. For the Dashboard period ending Feb. 19, 53% of nursing home residents nationwide and only 22% of staff were “up-to-date” on COVID-19 vaccinations. The resident rate nationwide is a slight increase over the January reporting period, but the staff rate of 22% is unchanged. Here in Virginia nearly 53% of residents, which is about the same as the previous period, and 20% of staff were “up to date” on their vaccinations, a decrease of nearly 3%.
AARP recommends family members of a nursing home resident ask these 10 questions about vaccination rates and other COVID-related issues to stay connected and keep your loved one safe.
AARP is also urging the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services to take additional steps to help increase up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination rates for nursing home residents and staff, saying more action is needed to build upon other recent steps to protect them.
Nationwide, it’s estimated that more than 180,000 residents and staff of nursing homes have died due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began in early 2020.
About 20% of Virginia facilities reported a shortage of nurses or aides for the four weeks ending Feb. 19, and that number has remained steady since September 2022.
The Virginia General Assembly recently passed legislation that would establish minimum staffing levels in nursing homes.
“We must do more to ensure residents receive high-quality care and their families have peace of mind about their health and safety,” Dau said.
Nationally, AARP also supports the establishment of mandatory federal minimum staffing levels or standards as a condition of participation for nursing homes in Medicare and Medicaid.
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 AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard is available at www.aarp.org/nursinghomedashboard.
With about 1 million members in Virginia, AARP is the largest organization working on behalf of people aged 50-plus and their families in the Commonwealth. To learn how we are working in your community, visit us online at aarp.org/va, follow us on Facebook at @aarpvirginia and on Twitter @aarpva.
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.