AARP Data: Florida Nursing Home Resident COVID-19 Death and Case Rates Nearly Doubled Over Holiday Period

Posted on 02/11/21

Systemic Problems in Long-Term Care are Central Issues

ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. — The COVID-19 death rate among Florida nursing home residents nearly doubled over the previous reporting period, according to a newly released Nursing Home Dashboard issued today by AARP’s Public Policy Institute. The increase reflects the anticipated aftermath of the holiday season as the most recent report captures data from Dec. 20 until Jan 17.

AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson said, "Infection control and adequate staffing have been enduring problems in nursing homes – even before COVID-19 emerged as a top killer of older Floridians. That’s why AARP has called for a new vision for long-term care in Florida. We’re seeking real solutions. There’s no room for destructive legislative proposals, such as Senate Bill 74, which gives immunity to nursing homes, letting the industry off the hook and ensuring they can never be held accountable.”

“AARP Florida is committed to fighting to protect nursing home residents and their loved ones, safeguarding their rights to quality care. We are approaching the one-year anniversary of the first-known coronavirus cases in nursing homes, yet the rates of cases and deaths remain startlingly high. The devastation this pandemic has brought to nursing home residents and their families has dramatically illustrated that fundamental reforms must be made in Florida nursing homes and to the long-term care system. We cannot lower our guard.”   

The COVID-19 pandemic has killed nearly 10,000 Florida residents and staff in Florida’s elder-care facilities, as of the state’s Feb. 9 report. In the newly released AARP Nursing Home Dashboard report, Florida’s total nursing home deaths amounted to 405 deaths – or 7.2 deaths per 1,000 residents. This represents an increase from 4.4 deaths per 1,000 residents in the January report, which covered Nov. 15 to Dec. 20. Positive cases for residents rose from .38 to .64 per 1,000 residents and COVID-19 positive staff rose from .45 to .64 per 1,000 residents. The analysis also showed that while Florida’s COVID-19 nursing home numbers remain better than the national average for deaths and case rates for residents and staff, the rates are still some of the highest Florida has experienced in AARP’s dashboard, with significantly more new cases than were reported in summer and fall 2020.

AARP continues to call on Florida legislators and community leaders to better protect residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities from COVID-19 by:

  • Prioritizing regular and ongoing testing and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for residents and staff—as well as inspectors and any visitors.
  • Ensuring quality care for residents through adequate staffing, strict regulatory oversight, and access to in-person formal advocates, called long-term care Ombudsmen.
  • Rejecting COVID-19 related civil liability immunity for long-term care facilities.

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 federal data do not include coronavirus cases among residents or staff of assisted-living facilities, group homes and other congregate elder-care facilities. That data is included in Florida government statistics.

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