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Wyoming Nursing Home Residents Experience Nation’s Highest COVID Rates

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After three months of low numbers of nursing home resident COVID-19 cases and deaths in Wyoming, things have taken a turn for the worse through the end of September and most of October, according to the latest AARP COVID-19 Nursing Home Dashboard

Wyoming’s 8.49 COVID-19 cases per 100 nursing home residents is far and away the highest in the country and nearly double the rate of any other state in the Union. Montana has the nation’s second highest rate at 6.94 cases per 100 residents. In all, there were 197 reported cases of COVID-19 among residents of Wyoming nursing homes from mid-September through October 17. Since the start of the pandemic there have been more than 14,000 nursing home resident cases in the Cowboy State.

Wyoming also has the second-highest rate of nursing home resident deaths due to COVID in the nation during the four week period running from Sept. 20 through Oct. 17, with 1.53 deaths per 100 nursing home residents (27 deaths due to COVID-19 total over the same four-week period). Montana has the nation’s highest rate at 1.72 COVID-19 deaths per 100 nursing home residents. Montana and Wyoming are the only two states in the Union with a rate higher than .62 nursing home resident deaths attributed to COVID-19.

Nursing home staff have not been immune from COVID-19, as illustrated by the fact 84% of nursing homes self-reported staff cases over the four-week period ending Oct. 20. Just 60.7% of nursing home staff are vaccinated in Wyoming, according to the dashboard. That is the seventh lowest vaccination rate in the nation. The state’s ratio of 59% of nursing homes reporting a shortage of staff is the fifth highest in the country.

National Trends

The latest AARP COVID-19 Nursing Home Dashboard shows that the number of nursing home staff nationally who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 rose sharply from mid-September to mid-October. AARP’s Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard found that staff vaccination rates increased from 67% to 74% in the four weeks ending October 17 – the largest monthly increase since the dashboard began tracking vaccination rates in June. Seven states report that more than 90% of direct care staff in nursing homes are vaccinated, showing that high vaccination rates are achievable. Under a new federal rule published last week, all health care workers in facilities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid must be fully vaccinated by January 4, 2022. The number of nursing home residents who are fully vaccinated increased by 1% in the same time period, to a total of 86% nationally.

AARP’s dashboard also shows an increase in the number of facilities reporting a shortage of nurses or aides. Staffing shortages rose to 30% in this time period – the highest rate since CMS began reporting data in spring 2020. Nationally, the rate of COVID-19 cases declined by one-quarter for residents and one-third for staff, however 18 states reported increases in resident cases and 13 saw increases in staff cases. Death rates remained constant compared to the previous four-week period in AARP’s dashboard, with more than 2,000 nursing home residents dying of COVID-19 for the second consecutive month.

About the Dashboard

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.

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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