New AARP Florida Report: Florida Nursing Home Resident COVID-19 Death Rate Doubled Over Thanksgiving Holiday Period

Posted on 12/22/20

The COVID-19 death rate among Florida nursing home residents doubled in the three weeks around the Thanksgiving holiday, continuing an upward trend in deaths and cases, according to a new special AARP Nursing Home Dashboard issued today by AARP’s Public Policy Institute.

The death rate from COVID-19 in Florida nursing homes rose from 2.3 deaths per 1000 residents in the four weeks ending Nov. 15 to 4.7 deaths per 1000 residents in the three weeks ending Dec. 6, the analysis showed.  Florida’s rate of infections among both nursing home residents and staff also showed significant increases.

Medic Rollator 4 wheel Aluminum With Hand Brake in a old age nursing home

While the spike in death rates was high, the analysis also showed that Florida’s  COVID-19 nursing home crisis was still better than the national average, as nursing home infections and deaths spiked across the United States.  

Nationally, the rate of nursing home resident deaths, resident infections, and staff infections have each more than tripled in just seven weeks. Deaths and cases continue to surge, with the most recent week being the highest of all.

AARP issued the new report as a special supplement to the organization's monthly 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.  The next report was not due out until the second week in January, but AARP analysts were so concerned about a worsening of the nationwide COVID-19 nursing home crisis that they issued this special report.

"Public health experts had warned Americans that cases would increase as families traveled and visited each other over Thanksgiving, and the reported numbers have proved these warnings correct," said Jeff Johnson, AARP’s Florida state director. "Better news may be on the way soon as vaccinations are rolled out, but in the near term, nursing home residents and staff face serious risks.”

AARP continues to call on Florida 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.  .

Federal officials have urged nursing home and long-term care residents, staff, and their loved ones to "exercise extreme caution" during the holiday season.

The AARP special report includes national and state data, and serves as a supplement to the AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard, released monthly.

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 does not include coronavirus cases among residents or staff of assisted-living facilities, group homes and other congregate elder-care facilities, which are included in Florida government statistics often cited by AARP Florida.

The COVID-19 pandemic has killed 7,938 Florida residents and staff of all types of elder-care facilities as of the state’s Dec. 21 report.  This is almost 2.7 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, which traditionally has been considered America’s grayest state.

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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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