AARP analysis: Virginia COVID-19 cases, deaths declining in nursing homes
The latest release of AARP’s Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard shows that both cases and deaths in nursing homes declined in the four weeks ending March 21.
Although these rates are improving, chronic problems in nursing homes – revealed during the COVID-19 pandemic – continue.
During this period in Virginia, more than 20 percent of nursing homes reported a shortage of nurses or aides, a 3.5 percent increase from the previous reporting period. Deaths of nursing home residents in Virginia are significantly lower than they were in the previous period, dropping from a rate of 1.72 to .24 per 100 residents, the lowest since the pandemic began.
New infections among residents declined from 5.4 per 100 residents to .77, also the lowest of the pandemic. Staff cases stayed about the same as last period, hovering around 10 percent.
“The good news is COVID-19 cases and deaths in nursing homes are on the decline,” AARP Virginia State Director Jim Dau said. “But residents of nursing homes can’t breathe a real sigh of relief until the chronic, ongoing problems in long-term care facilities – such as staffing shortages, lack of transparency and accountability, and poor infection control – have been resolved.”
AARP Virginia continues to fight for reforms to protect nursing home residents and ensure long-term care facilities provide high-quality care. Specifically, AARP Virginia worked to pass several reform bills, including legislation to establish minimum staffing levels for nursing homes.
As it has for the last two decades, the General Assembly failed to pass these bills.
More broadly, AARP Virginia’s priorities around long-term care reform include:
- Enact or make permanent the components of AARP’s five-point plan:
- Prioritize regular and ongoing testing and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for residents and staff—as well as for inspectors and any visitors.
- Improve transparency focused on daily, public reporting of cases and deaths in facilities; communication with families about discharges and transfers; and accountability for state and federal funding that goes to facilities.
- Ensure access to in-person visitation following federal and state guidelines for safety and require continued access to virtual visitation for all residents.
- Ensure quality care for residents through adequate staffing, oversight, and access to in-person formal advocates, called long-term care Ombudsmen.
- Reject immunity and hold long-term care facilities accountable when they fail to provide adequate care to residents.
- Establish minimum nursing staffing standards.
- Provide supplemental staff wages and benefits during this emergency.
- Ensure that increases in nursing homes’ reimbursement rates are spent on staff pay and to improve protections for residents.
- Improve minimum wages for staff in residential and home care settings.
- Ensure progress is made so that in-person visitation can safely occur and facilitate virtual visitation.
- Create a pathway for single occupancy rooms in nursing homes.
- Establish a long-term care emergency operation center.
- Establish a state task force on nursing home quality and safety.
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, to identify specific areas of concern at the national and state levels in a timely manner.
The complete Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard is available at www.aarp.org/nursinghomedashboard.
For more information on how COVID is impacting nursing homes and AARP’s advocacy on this issue, visit www.aarp.org/nursinghomes.