Nursing home deaths may have accounted for as many as 40% of all coronavirus-related deaths in the United States — more than 50,000 of the nearly 110,000 deaths the country has suffered over the past several months, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal.
“A Wall Street Journal tally of state data compiling fatalities from Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, underscores the virus’s heavy cost to those living in long-term care facilities,” the paper wrote Tuesday. “Deaths among senior-care center staff and residents appear to represent at least 40% of the overall count of more than 116,000 U.S. fatalities related to Covid-19 as compiled by Johns Hopkins University.”
That is not the only shocking statistic the WSJ discovered. Around 250,000 nursing home residents, caregivers, and other employees contracted the novel coronavirus over the course of the pandemic, meaning that nursing homes accounted for nearly 25% of all American COVID-19 infections. Of those 250,000, an estimated 50,919 died — and that could simply be the tip of the iceberg. For many states, reporting data on COVID-19 deaths lags by several weeks.
In other states, like Michigan, information about nursing home coronavirus infections was not readily available.
“The Journal’s tally of the latest state data shows more than 51,000 COVID-19-associated deaths tied to long-term-care facilities, including nursing homes and assisted-living sites, along with more than 250,000 cases,” the paper said. “The counts likely understate the full impact of the outbreak—which has also hit senior facilities hard in other countries—because of reporting lags and incomplete information from some states.”
States like New York required nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to take eligible coronavirus patients once they were released from the hospital and were considered no longer in danger of death. Unfortunately, many of those same patients remained contagious and infections spread quickly within closed facility environments.
As The Daily Wire reported previously, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who had, perhaps, the worst record of nursing home coronavirus deaths in the country, blamed the federal government and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which required states to open up hospital beds by sending eligible coronavirus patients to long-term care facilities. The CDC, however, says it required facilities accepting patients to adhere to strict guidelines about separation and hygiene — guidelines many facilities, especially those housing low-income and minority residents, struggled to meet.
Politico reported Monday, also, that many of the facilities accepting coronavirus-positive patients were never inspected by either state or federal officials, leaving residents vulnerable to deliberately or mistakenly incorrect policies. The federal government also paused its inspections of nursing facilities in order to allow states to focus on handling infection control in long-term care for themselves — something many failed to do.
“In March, the Trump administration paused routine nursing home inspections, which typically occur about once a year. Instead, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services asked that state agencies focus on inspecting facilities for their infection control practices, such as whether staff wash their hands or properly wear protective clothing before tending to multiple patients,” Politico said. “But for more than two months, state inspectors failed to enter half the country’s homes.”
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are now cracking down, and most states have reversed their policies, often begrudgingly, and too late for many of the nation’s most vulnerable adults.
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