COVID-19 Continues to Plague Virginia Nursing Homes

Posted on 10/19/22

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For the first time since the Spring of 2022, the number of COVID-19 deaths and cases among nursing home residents and staff nationwide have declined, according to AARP's Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard. However, despite the decreases, COVID-19 transmission in nursing homes is still significantly high amid the backdrop of a troubling stall in vaccination and booster rates.

If you or a loved one live or work in a Virginia nursing home, we want to hear from you.

The October Dashboard update includes, for the first time, estimates of the percentage of nursing home residents and staff nationwide who are "up to date" on their COVID-19 vaccinations, which means they are fully vaccinated and current on booster shots. As of mid-September, only a little more than half of residents (55%) and fewer than half of staff (43%) nationwide were up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations. Those percentages mean that more than a half a million nursing home residents and more than one million staff nationwide are not up to date on their vaccinations. In Virginia 54% of residents and nearly 42% of staff are up to date.

"It's a fact: vaccines prevent serious illness and save lives," said, Jared Calfee, Associate State Director of AARP Virginia, which serves about 1 million members age 50 and older in Virginia. "Right now, with flu season here and COVID-19 still a deadly reality, we need the double layer of protection that flu vaccines and up-to-date COVID-19 vaccines will provide for our loved ones in nursing homes."

"The urgency of the situation is compounded by the fact that, according to CDC data, as of September 30th, a month into rollout of bivalent or updated COVID-19 booster, less than 4% of Americans eligible had gotten the shot," Calfee said.

If you or a loved one live or work in a Virginia nursing home, we want to hear from you.

COVID-19 and flu vaccines are just two of the immunizations recommended for people age 50 plus. For more information on what to get and when, check out  here.

In Virginia resident cases and deaths were slightly down from the previous four-week period ending August 21. Deaths declined to .07 per 100 residents in the four-week period ending September 18, from .13 for the period ending August 21. Resident cases declined to 3.59 per 100 residents from 4.7 for the previous period.

Despite the decrease, data show that COVID-19 still has a deadly grip on America's nursing homes. While the national death rate for the most recent reporting period has decreased, it remains three times as high as the rate in the four weeks ending April 17, the low point of 2022, and resident and staff cases are more than six times as high as they were back in April.     

Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 3,000 nursing home residents in Virginia have died from COVID-19. And if the last two winters are any indication, another surge is coming.

If you or a loved one live or work in a Virginia nursing home, we want to hear from you.

Nationwide, about 25% of nursing homes reported a staffing shortage in the four weeks ending September 18, unchanged from the previous month. Virginia facilities reporting a shortage of nurses or aides was 20% for the same period, down 22% from the previous period.

AARP is fighting for minimum hourly staffing standards in Virginia’s nursing homes, which would ensure quality care and help address workforce shortages by providing a minimum 4.1 hours of nurse and aide time per patient per day. Currently, Virginia has no staffing standards for facilities.

"Sufficient nurse staffing is critical to providing better quality care for residents in a variety of areas, including decreased infections, fewer bed sores, and lower mortality rates," Calfee said. "AARP is fighting for important legislation in Virginia that addresses staffing inadequacies and other chronic issues in nursing homes. Nationally, AARP also supports the establishment of mandatory federal minimum staffing levels or standards as a condition of participation for nursing homes in Medicare and Medicaid."

The AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard analyzes federally reported data in four-week periods going back to June 1, 2020. Using this data, the AARP Public Policy Institute, in collaboration with the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Ohio, created the Dashboard to provide snapshots of the virus' infiltration into nursing homes and impact on nursing home residents and staff, with the goal of identifying specific areas of concern at the national and state levels in a timely manner. The full AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard is available at www.aarp.org/nursinghomedashboard.

If you have a loved one in a nursing home, AARP has 10 questions to ask the facility to stay connected and keep your loved one safe.

If you or a loved one live or work in a Virginia nursing home, we want to hear from you. 

About AARP

AARP is the nation's largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org, www.aarp.org/espanol or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspanol and @AARPadvocates, @AliadosAdelante on social media.

 

This story is provided by AARP Virginia. Visit the AARP Virginia page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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