New AARP Analysis Shows Rate of COVID-19 Deaths in Nursing Homes Has Tripled and Cases Quadrupled in Three Months

Posted on 01/14/21

The latest release of AARP’s Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard depicts a worsening crisis from coast to coast, including Minnesota. In the four-week period ending December 20, 62.2% of nursing homes in Minnesota reported residents with confirmed cases of coronavirus, and 92.4% with at least one staff member diagnosed.  

The rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Minnesota’s nursing homes have skyrocketed in the last three months. From October 2020 to December 2020, nursing homes reported that: 

  • New confirmed cases among residents increased from .95 to 3.16 per 100 residents 
  • New confirmed cases among staff increased from 4.7 to 15.1 per 100 residents 
  • Deaths among residents increased from 2.8 to 12.4 per 100 residents 
  • 31.3% of nursing homes are without a 1-week supply of PPE 

Meanwhile, staffing shortages remain a concern, with 61.5% of facilities reporting a shortage in the most recent dashboard, up from 39.8% back in June 2020. 

“Almost a year into the pandemic, nursing home residents and staff remain trapped in a petri dish, nearly defenseless against coronavirus,” said AARP State Director Will Phillips. “While vaccines will not make nursing home residents safe overnight, this dashboard underscores the urgency of vaccinating residents and staff as quickly as possible. Also, given that nearly every nursing homes reported staff infections and resident cases, it is alarming that so many facilities still do not have adequate PPE.” 

Phillips added, “The continuing coronavirus crisis in nursing homes also spotlights the life-and-death need for fundamental reforms, now. For years, the nursing home industry in Minnesota has struggled with poor infection control, understaffing, and quality care issues.” AARP urges elected officials to act immediately, focusing this year on: 

  • Funding the Minnesota Department of Health Emergency Staffing Pool Program provides temporary staffing to facilities experiencing severe staff shortages. 
  • Providing Supplemental Wages and Paid Sick Leave to Direct Care Staff 
  • Prioritizing regular and ongoing testing and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for residents and staff—as well as inspectors and any visitors. 
  • Ensuring access to in-person visitation following federal and state guidelines for safety and require continued access to virtual visitation for all residents. 

The AARP COVID-19 Nursing Home Dashboard analyzes federally reported data in four-week periods going back to June 1, 2020. Earlier this year, AARP fought for public reporting of nursing home COVID-19 cases and deaths. 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 COVID-19 Nursing Home Dashboard is available at www.aarp.org/nursinghomedashboard. For more information on how COVID is impacting nursing homes and AARP’s advocacy on this issue, visit www.aarp.org/nursinghomes

This story is provided by AARP Minnesota. Visit the AARP Minnesota 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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