COVID-19 Nursing Home Infection Rates Spiking in Kentucky

Posted on 11/18/20 by Scott Wegenast

Updated AARP research shows disturbing findings for nursing home residents.

COVID-19 cases are spiking in Kentucky and across the country. In Kentucky, 1,095 residents and staff from nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have died. In the last four-week period according to the AARP Nursing Home Dashboard, more than one-quarter (29%) of nursing homes had at least one confirmed resident COVID-19 case, and over twice as many (71%) had at least one confirmed staff case. In one state, more than 90% of nursing homes had staff test positive for the virus.

While some progress (marginal improvement) has been made from one in four nursing homes the prior month, one in five nursing homes (20%) had a PPE shortage (defined as not having a one-week supply of N95 masks, surgical masks, gowns, gloves, and eye protection) for the four weeks ending Oct. 18., many months into this crisis. That means the federal and state government and the facilities itself need to do a better job of securing PPE for these facilities. More than one in four nursing homes nationally had a shortage of direct care workers. These staff are essential to quality care and protecting residents, especially during a pandemic.

AARP reports, 1,095 residents and staff of Kentucky nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have died from COVID-19, representing over 65 percent of all coronavirus fatalities in Kentucky. Yet federal policymakers have been slow to respond and we need everyone to do a better job to stem the loss of life. AARP has called for the enactment of a 5-point plan to protect nursing home and long-term care facility residents—and save lives—at the federal and state levels:

  • Prioritize regular and ongoing testing and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for residents and staff—as well as inspectors and any visitors.
  • Improve transparency focused communication with families about discharges and transfers; and accountability for state and federal funding that goes to facilities.
  • Ensure access to in-person visitation following federal and state guidelines for safety, and require continued access to virtual visitation for all residents.
  • Ensure quality care for residents through adequate staffing, oversight, and access to in-person formal advocates, called long-term care Ombudsmen.
  • Reject immunity for long-term care facilities related to COVID-19.

In Kentucky, nursing home resident COVID-19 deaths and cases and staff cases are no longer declining as in the summer. In the last four weeks, resident and staff cases have begun to tick upward. The continued rapid rise in COVID-19 cases around Kentucky and neighboring states presents a considerable risk to nursing homes, residents, and staff.

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AARP has resources and supports for families, caregivers and others is available at

AARP will continue to update this information in the coming months in our ongoing effort to shine a light on this growing crisis. COVID-19 cases across the U.S. are again on the rise, and nursing homes remain a hotbed for the virus. Over 91,000 residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have died from COVID-19, 40 percent of all COVID-19 deaths nationwide, even though nursing home residents make up less than one percent of the U.S. population. AARP continues to urge elected officials to take action to combat this national tragedy—and to ensure that public funds provided to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are used for testing, PPE, staffing, virtual visits, and for the health and safety of residents. AARP continues to urge Congress to take action on these critical issues in the lame duck session.

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