AARP Dashboard: Virginia’s COVID-19 nursing home death rate second highest in the nation
The latest release of AARP’s Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard shows that both cases and deaths in nursing homes fell in the four weeks ending Feb. 14.
Although these rates are improving, new infections and deaths in nursing homes are still more than twice as high as they were in the summer of 2020. While deaths of Virginia nursing home residents are more than a third lower than what they were in the previous time period, the state’s rate this period (1.72 deaths per 100 residents) is the second-highest in the nation.
New infections among residents and staff also declined to less than half of previous levels. Resident cases fell from 14.2 to 5.4 per 100 residents, and new staff cases declined from 9.5 to 3.4 per 100 residents.
The dashboard also reveals that staffing and shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) remain a significant problem. In Virginia 16.5 percent of facilities reported a shortage of nurses or aides in the most recent time period; the lowest since AARP began tracking this data. While the number of facilities reporting a shortage of PPE has declined slightly to 10.2 percent, one-in-10 did not have a one-week supply in the last month.
“While we are encouraged by the downward trend in nursing home deaths, we continue to see disgracefully high numbers of cases and deaths in Virginia’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities compared to the rest of the country,” said Jim Dau, AARP Virginia state director. “Decreasing numbers and vaccine rollout give hope, but we should not lose sight of the chronic, ongoing problems in our long-term care system that were exposed by COVID.”
AARP Virginia will continue fighting for reforms that make nursing homes safe and provide options for seniors to stay in their homes.
Specifically, AARP Virginia urges state lawmakers to:
- 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, with the goal of identifying specific areas of concern at the national and state levels in a timely manner.
The full 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.