Data provided by the Centers for Disease Control show that more than 200,000 residents and employees of long-term care facilities have lost their lives to Covid-19 in the last two years. According to a report on the data by the nonprofit KFF, that figure represents “at least 23% of all COVID-19 deaths in the US.” Long-term care facility deaths used to represent a larger share of Covid-19 deaths in the US, comprising “nearly half of all deaths nationally” at the beginning of emergency. As KFF notes, the number has fallen largely thanks to high resident vaccination rates, increasing staff vaccination rates, “an increased emphasis on infection control procedures,” as well as shrinking nursing home populations.
Still, KFF notes, nursing home Covid-19 cases and deaths are both “disproportionately high” in the US, which may be due to the “highly transmissible nature” of the omicron variant as well as nursing home conditions more broadly. “Higher death rates may be attributed to the high-risk status of those who reside in nursing homes,” the report notes.
KFF’s analysis notes that this sort of data “is essential to comprehensively assess the impact of COVID-19 on seniors and people with disabilities,” and criticizes the federal government for limited its data sets: as things stand, federal health authorities only collect information about “COVID-19 cases, deaths, testing, and vaccinations from Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing facilities.” This omits potentially important data from “congregate community based settings” other than nursing homes, like group homes and assisted living facilities, the latter of which provide homes to “nearly one million people.”
That figure is comparable to the number of people living in nursing homes, KFF states, but there is no comparable data collection efforts by the federal government to evaluate the impact of Covid-19 in people living in them. Complicating matters further, KFF states, “the federal health care worker vaccine mandate does not apply to all settings across the care continuum, possibly leading to COVID-19 infections with resulting staff shortages in these settings.”
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC work diligently to protect the rights of nursing home residents. Please contact us to discuss in the event you have a potential case involving neglect or abuse.