The COVID-19 death rate among Florida nursing home residents remained relatively flat over the past month but COVID-19 positive cases for residents and staff increased by 18 percent over the December holiday season, continuing an upward trend in positive rates, according to a new Nursing Home Dashboard data issued today by AARP’s Public Policy Institute.
While the death rate from COVID-19 in Florida nursing homes dipped slightly from 4.7 deaths per 1,000 residents to 4.4 deaths per 1,000 residents since its special report ending Dec. 6, Florida’s rate of infections spiked upward by 18 percent.
The analysis also showed that Florida’s COVID-19 nursing home crisis remains better than the national average for deaths and positive rates for residents. Staff positive rates were lower than the national average.
"COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon and even before we had a pandemic, there were shortfalls in our long-term care system that we’ve sought to address," AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson said. "We’re re-doubling our efforts with the Florida Legislature to implement short-term solutions and devise long-term plans around quality community-based long-term care options where contagion is less likely.”
Nationally, the rate of nursing home resident deaths have tripled and resident and staff infection rates have nearly doubled over the last six weeks. The average nursing home personal protective equipment (PPE) supply level, average across five categories remained relatively constant, with nearly 15 percent reporting less than one week’s supply.
AARP issued the latest report as part of a monthly analysis of data to provide consolidated information that shines a light on what’s happening in nursing homes. The aggregated data compiled monthly is archived on the Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard. The report has been issued once a month starting in mid-October and was last issued Dec. 10, for the four-week period ending Nov. 15. A special report was published Dec. 21 to showcase COVID-19 trends that climbed due to holiday travel and other related seasonal considerations. These data compilations end on Dec. 20 with the holiday trends to be aggregated in the February dashboard.
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.
“Even though Florida has been one of the first states to distribute the COVID-19 vaccines to nursing homes, it’s a complex and long pipeline to administer shots for all residents and front-line workers,” Johnson said. “PPE remains among the most effective ways to protect our seniors and those who care for them.”
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.
The COVID-19 pandemic has killed 8,613 Florida residents and staff in Florida’s elder-care facilities, as of state’s Jan. 12 report. This is almost three times the number of deaths in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
In light of this catastrophe, AARP Florida has called for a new vision for long-term care in the Sunshine State, considered America’s grayest state.
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