New Nursing Home Cases Continue To Tick Up In Midwest States; 275% Increase In The Region Since September
Calls Continue For Congress To Replenish Emergency Funding For Hospitals And Long Term Care Facilities And For States To Take Additional Measures To Control Community Spread
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), representing more than 14,000 nursing homes and assisted living communities across the country that provide care to approximately five million people each year, released a report today showing nursing homes in the U.S. continue to see a record number of weekly new cases this month due to the community spread among the general population, surpassing previous peaks since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) started tracking cases in nursing homes.
Recent data released by Johns Hopkins University and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) show that with the recent spike in new COVID cases in the general U.S. population, weekly nursing home cases are also on the rise. According to Johns Hopkins University, weekly new COVID cases in the general U.S. population rose by 229 percent to 796,761 new cases the week of November 8. A correlating uptick in new cases in nursing homes occurred when cases in the surrounding community started rising back in mid-September.
As experts have repeatedly noted, COVID-19 cases in a surrounding community is a top factor in outbreaks in nursing homes. University of Chicago’s Tamara Konetzka, a nationally recognized expert on long-term care, recently said, “Trying to protect nursing home residents without controlling community spread is a losing battle.” Dr. David Grabowski, professor of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School recently stated, “The strongest predictor of whether or not we’ll see cases in [a particular setting] is community spread.”
“Our worst fears have come true as COVID runs rampant among the general population, and long term care facilities are powerless to fully prevent it from entering due to its asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread,” stated Mark Parkinson, President and CEO of AHCA/NCAL. “Our health care heroes are doing everything they can to prevent it from spreading further, but this level of COVID nationwide puts serious strain on our workforce, supplies, and testing capacity. If everybody would wear a mask and social distance to reduce the level of COVID in the community, we know we would dramatically reduce these rates in long term care facilities.”
During the second week of November, nearly half (49 percent) of new COVID cases in nursing homes were from Midwest states with major spikes in community spread in the upper parts of the region. As a result, the Midwest region saw a 275 percent increase in weekly COVID cases in nursing homes since mid-September.
After seven weeks of declining cases in nursing homes through mid-September, nursing home cases began to increase as nearly all 50 states have started to see rising levels of COVID cases. New weekly cases in nursing homes grew by more than 110 percent nationwide between mid-September and the week of November 8.The report also showed COVID-related deaths in nursing homes are starting to rise, 69 percent increase since late September. Nursing home residents are typically older adults with multiple chronic conditions, making them most vulnerable to COVID-19. Residents of long term care facilities account for only eight percent of the nation’s cases, yet 40 percent of its deaths. While mortality rates have decreased compared to the spring due to a better understanding of the virus, better treatments, and government resources to help reduce spread, industry leaders remain deeply concerned that the rising number of new COVID cases in facilities will ultimately lead to an increasing number of deaths.