News and Commentary

Report: At Least 54,000 Coronavirus Deaths Linked To Nursing Homes
RIVERSIDE, CA- APRIL 8, 2020: Medical staff in full personal protective gear take a breather while helping to remove patients from Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center after 39 tested positive for coronavirus and the nursing staff was not showing up to work for their own safety on April 8, 2020 in Riverside, California. All 84 resident patients will be removed to other facilities.
Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

While only 11% of confirmed coronavirus cases have been linked to nursing homes and long-term elderly care centers, Americans living or working in nursing homes have accounted for approximately 43% of coronavirus-linked deaths, according to The New York Times.

The Times, which has compiled a database of COVID-19 cases, reports that about 12,000 nursing homes and care centers have been linked to 282,000 cases. Of these cases, 54,000 people have died.

“Infected people linked to nursing homes also die at a higher rate than the general population,” reports the Times. “The median case fatality rate — the number of deaths divided by the number of cases — at facilities with reliable data is 17 percent, significantly higher than the 5 percent case fatality rate nationwide.”

In other words, the Times found that, at nursing homes with at least fifty coronavirus cases, half of those nursing homes experienced fatality rates over 17% and half experienced fatality rates under 17%. The Times also notes the national 5% fatality rate for confirmed coronavirus cases. However, while about 2.5 million have tested positive for coronavirus in the United States, CDC Director Robert Redfield estimated Thursday that as many as 24 million Americans have been infected, a projection based on antibody data, according to The Washington Post. This would push the national fatality rate lower.

The Times offers the following caveats about comparing data between states and facilities: “The federal government, states, counties and facilities report different portions of long-term care data, so exercise caution when comparing facilities or aggregated data in different states.” The news agency also suggests that the nursing home data for New York isn’t reliable, as “the case count is often the same as the death count because the state only reports the number of people who have died but not the number of overall infections.”

As of Saturday evening, New York state has been responsible for about 31,000 coronavirus-linked deaths, roughly 25% of the deaths in the United States, according to data from the Times. In 2019, New York was only home to about 6% of the American population.

The Daily Caller has also noted New York’s coronavirus transparency problem, having reported back in mid-May that the health department was no longer linking coronavirus deaths to nursing homes if the resident died at the hospital as of, roughly, April 28.

Jill Montag, a spokesperson for the health department, told The Daily Caller that those deaths were “accounted for in the overall fatality data on our COVID-19 tracker.”

About two weeks after the disclosure change, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) reversed a policy that prohibited nursing homes from re-admitting formerly hospitalized residents who were either confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19, according to the Associated Press.

An AP investigation later found that at least 4,500 patients recovering from coronavirus were sent back to nursing homes or long-term care centers. As The Daily Wire previously reported, Cuomo has attributed his nursing home policy to Trump administration guidance.

“New York followed the president’s agencies’ guidance,” said Cuomo, per Fox News. “What New York did was follow what the Republican Administration said to do. That’s not my attempt to politicize it. It’s my attempt to depoliticize it. So don’t criticize the state for following the president’s policy.”

However, Fox News reports that the March “guidance that Cuomo’s office cited says ‘a nursing home can accept a resident diagnosed with COVID-19… as long as the facility can follow CDC guidance.’  New York – along with California and New Jersey – went further and turned the guidance into state directives and said at the time that nursing homes cannot refuse to take patients from hospitals solely because they have the coronavirus.”

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