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Virginia Nursing Home Deaths Reach Record Highs, Staff Shortages Climb

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AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard: Virginia Nursing Home Deaths Reach Record Highs, Staff Shortages Climb

New AARP Public Policy Institute paper outlines recommendations for long-term care quality improvements

RICHMOND—Based on publicly available data up to Nov. 15, the latest update of the AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard finds record high resident and staff cases, a record number of resident deaths, and continuing staff shortages in Virginia. Since the start of the pandemic, deaths from COVID-19 in nursing homes accounted for 32% of all deaths from the virus in the state, while representing only 3.2% of total cases.

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From mid-October through mid-November, the rate of nursing home resident deaths in Virginia reached .86 per 100 residents, the highest since the federal government began collecting this information. As COVID-19 brings to light longstanding flaws in the nation’s long-term care system, AARP’s Public Policy Institute also unveiled a new report in a series on strategies to improve the quality of long-term services and supports (LTSS).

In the four weeks analyzed, October 19 to November 15, AARP’s dashboard reports a grim story in Virginia:


  • 57% of all COVID-19 deaths were nursing home residents
  • 5.6 new COVID-19 cases per 100 residents, up from 3.5 in the previous four-week period
  • 22.6% of nursing homes with staffing shortages, up from 20.6% in the previous four-week period
  • .86 COVID-19 deaths per 100 residents, up from .50 in the previous four-week period
  • 3.7 new staff COVID-19 cases per 100 residents, up from 2.6 in the previous four-week period
  • 15.6% of nursing homes without a 1-week supply of PPE, down slightly from 15.8% in the previous four-week period

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“With coronavirus surging across the country, nursing home residents remain in grave danger as the virus reenters nursing homes and other facilities at an alarming pace,” said AARP State Director Jim Dau.  “Facilities continue to have shortages of the staff and PPE needed to keep residents and workers safe and stop the spread. Our state leaders must act now to save lives.”

As the pandemic continues to place a spotlight on the shortcomings of the country’s long-term care system, the AARP Public Policy Institute has launched LTSS Choices, a multifaceted project designed to advance the transformation and modernization of the nation’s long-term services and supports (LTSS) system. A new report in the series examines the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on long-term care facilities and solutions to improve quality. Recommendations highlighted in the report include:


  • Keeping current plans in place for emergencies that address both resident and staff needs
  • Creating state LTSS emergency operations and response centers to identify emergency needs and deploy resources
  • Increasing resident access to telehealth as a supplement to in-person care
  • Ensuring resident care plans address their isolation, risk for depression, and ability to interact with loved ones
  • Ensuring long-term care staff have health insurance, paid sick leave, and competitive wages
  • Encouraging new models of LTSS facilities that can improve infection control with private rooms and bathrooms
  • Imposing more meaningful fines and other penalties, especially for facilities that place residents in immediate jeopardy due to infection control violations

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“AARP will continue fighting to protect nursing home residents now and offering solutions to improve our long-term care system for the decades to come,” Dau said.

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. The dashboard will continue to be updated every four weeks. The complete dashboard is available at aarp.org/nursinghomedashboard.

The LTSS Choices series, including “COVID-19 and Nursing Home Residents,” is available at aarp.org/ltsschoices.

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

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With about 1 million members in Virginia, AARP is the largest organization working on behalf of people age 50+ and their families in the Commonwealth.

To learn more about AARP Virginia, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aarpvirginia and follow @AARPVa on Twitter at www.twitter.com/aarpva.

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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 or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.

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