Monday, June 29, 2020

The Elderly Go Viral

The New York Times finds some 43% of US COVID-19 deaths are either nursing home residents or nursing home workers, three out of seven.

At least 54,000 residents and workers have died from the coronavirus at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities for older adults in the United States, according to a New York Times database. As of June 26, the virus has infected more than 282,000 people at some 12,000 facilities.

Nursing home populations are at a high risk of being infected by — and dying from — the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, is known to be particularly lethal to adults in their 60s and older who have underlying health conditions. And it can spread more easily through congregate facilities, where many people live in a confined environment and workers move from room to room.

While 11 percent of the country’s cases have occurred in long-term care facilities, deaths related to Covid-19 in these facilities account for more than 43 percent of the country’s pandemic fatalities.

The share of deaths linked to long-term care facilities for older adults is even starker at the state level. In 24 states, the number of residents and workers who have died accounts for either half or more than half of all deaths from the virus.
Infected people linked to nursing homes also die at a higher rate than the general population. The median case fatality rate — the number of cases divided by the number of deaths — at facilities with reliable data is 17 percent, significantly higher than the 5 percent case fatality rate nationwide.

In the absence of comprehensive data from some states and the federal government, The Times has been assembling its own database of coronavirus cases and deaths at long-term care facilities for older adults. These include nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, memory care facilities, retirement and senior communities and rehabilitation facilities. This tracker will be updated periodically.

Some states, including Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey and South Carolina, regularly release cumulative data on cases and deaths at specific facilities. New York regularly releases facility-level information about deaths, but not about cases. Ohio, Wisconsin and Minnesota, among others, provide some details on the number of cases at specific facilities — but not on deaths. Others report aggregate totals for their states but provide no information on where the infections or deaths have occurred. Some report very little or nothing at all.

And yes, the states where the majority of COVID-19 deaths are related to nursing homes and other senior care facilities include Kentucky (61%) and Ohio (57%), with Indiana close by at 44%. The states with the largest number of deaths at individual facilities are of course New York and New Jersey, who did a lot of things correctly but utterly failed on protecting these facilities from COVID-19 until it was too late.

Keep in mind that these stats are most likely being wildly under-reported as well, like nearly all COVID-19 fatality stats are.

We have a long way to go on this too.  There will be more deaths.  Lots more.

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