New data shows that COVID-19 still has a deadly grip on the nation’s nursing homes, with the number of deaths and cases among residents and staff nationwide rising for the fourth consecutive month. This comes as troubling new numbers show that only a little more than half of nursing home residents nationwide were up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations and considered fully protected.
The rate of nursing home resident deaths nationwide increased by about 30% in the four-week period ending August 21, according to AARP’s Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard, compared to the previous Dashboard release. More than 1,000 residents and more than 100 staff died nationwide from COVID-19 during those four weeks, about four times the number that died during the four weeks ending April 17, before the current surge.
Here in Louisiana, resident deaths were up from 5 in the previous four-week period ending July 17, to 46 in the four-week period ending August 21. Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 24,000 nursing home residents in Louisiana have died from COVID-19.
Furthermore, the rates of resident and staff cases have increased nine-fold nationwide over the last four months. Here in Louisiana, nursing home resident cases were up from 1,316 in the previous four-week period ending July 17, to 1,342 in the four-week period ending August 21. Staff cases were down from 1,316 compared to 1,228 in the previous Dashboard release.
Data for this month’s Dashboard also includes, for the first time since the pandemic began, estimates of the percentage of nursing home residents who have received two or more booster doses, as well as the percentage of residents who are considered “up-to-date” on their shots— meaning they are fully vaccinated and not overdue for their first or second booster dose.
As of mid-August, only about 38% of nursing home residents nationwide, and 31.2% in Louisiana, had received two or more booster shots, while only about 56% were considered up-to-date with their vaccines and/or boosters. About 75% of residents and about 51% of staff have been fully vaccinated and have received at least one booster shot, unchanged from the previous month.
“We know that our loved ones in nursing homes are among the most vulnerable when it comes to COVID-19,” said, Denise Bottcher, state director of AARP, which serves more than 430,000 members age 50 and older in Louisiana. “With winter coming and flu season upon us, we must do everything we can to protect these folks from COVID-19 and a big part of that is prioritizing vaccines and boosters.”
AARP Louisiana continues to fight to protect nursing home residents and ensure long-term care facilities provide high-quality care. If you have an older spouse, sibling, parent, or other loved one in a nursing home, here are eight key questions to ask, as recommended by experts:
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. Medicare.gov's Care Compare website now offers information about vaccination and booster rates within individual nursing homes and how they compare to state and national averages.
For more information on how coronavirus is impacting nursing homes and AARP's advocacy on this issue, visit www.aarp.org/nursinghomes.
This story is provided by AARP Louisiana. Visit the AARP Louisiana page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.
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