Wyoming Nursing Home Resident Cases Low, Staff Shortages High, Says AARP’s COVID-19 Dashboard

Posted on 01/24/22 by Tom Lacock

Nursing home staff and resident

Low COVID-19 vaccine and booster rates among nursing home staff have led to the nation’s highest shortage of nurses and/or aides, with 73.5% of facilities reporting a shortage. That is according to the AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 dashboard released last week.

While nursing home resident cases have consistently dropped from November through December, the percentage of nursing home facilities with a shortage of nurses or aides has risen from 59% in November to 73.5% in mid-December.

Wyoming’s percentage of nursing home residents who are fully vaccinated with a booster shot - 63% -  ranks 14th highest in the country; however, the state’s percentage of nursing home staff who have received a booster remains low. Just 17.8% of Wyoming’s health care staff are classified as “fully vaccinated with a booster.” That is the 16th lowest in the nation. 

Meanwhile, Wyoming’s Nursing Home COVID-19 resident cases were among the lowest in the nation for the four week period ending Dec. 19 of last year. Wyoming’s rate of .33 nursing home residents who tested positive for COVID-19 was lower than any other state other than Hawaii, Florida, Alaska, and Louisiana. Michigan had the nation’s highest rate at 4.39 residents testing positive for COVID-19.

Wyoming’s percentage of nursing home deaths per 100 residents attributed to COVID-19 was just .11 for the four week period ending Dec. 19. Michigan had the nation’s highest rate at .61, with Alaska and Maine coming in with .57 rates. Hawaii and the District of Columbia reported no nursing home resident deaths due to COVID over that same time period.

Over 90% of Wyoming’s nursing home residents are fully vaccinated, not far from Maine, which has the nation’s highest percentage of nursing home residents vaccinated at 92.5%.

Data Doesn’t Yet Reflect Omicron

While the latest nursing home dashboard numbers appear positive, AARP points out it wasn’t until just after the four-week period featured in this edition of the nursing home dashboard that the Omnicron variant of COVID-19 was seen in nursing homes. The last few weeks of CDC numbers are showing a rapid surge in cases, according to the most recent data collected by the CDC.

According to CDC data, The first evidence of the Omicron surge in the nursing home data for the week ending 12/26/2021. Only one week later, there were 42,000 new staff cases, more than any previous week of the pandemic.

National nursing home resident cases show the same pattern. Approximately 80,000 new resident cases were reported across the two most recent weeks ending 1/16/2022. These are the two weeks with the most cases of the entire pandemic, surpassing the previous high during last winter’s peak, in which over 40,000 residents died in just two months. The resident death rate has also begun rising with the number of nursing home residents dying from COVID-19 has doubled in the last two weeks.

“There are now more COVID-19 cases in nursing homes than ever before, and deaths are rising as well,” says AARP Wyoming State Director Sam Shumway.

The COVID-19 dashboard data are self-reported by facilities to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at least weekly. The five dashboard measures use this CMS data source. Data were analyzed by Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Ohio, additional analysis and preparation of the dashboard by the AARP Public Policy Institute. That analysis and preparation of the data leads to some lag time in reporting.

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