More than 100,000 residents and staff of nursing homes, assisted living communities and other long-term care facilities have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, according to an analysis released Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The foundation found that 100,033 deaths had occurred nationwide within long-term care facilities as of Nov. 24. The analysis noted that this number is likely an undercount, given that Hawaii, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska and West Virginia had not updated their long-term care death figures in more than a week and Alaska still does not provide data on deaths in these facilities.
Deaths of residents and staff in long-term care facilities make up 40% of all COVID-19 deaths, the analysis noted. Further, in 18 states 50% or more of COVID-19 deaths were linked to long-term care facilities. In three states — New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut — nursing home and long-term care facility deaths accounted for more than 70% of the state’s COVID-19 deaths.
One reason for the high death rates within these facilities is that many of the workers are low-wage employees, noted Priya Chidambaramm, a policy analyst with the Kaiser Family Foundation.
“When someone is a low-wage employee, they don’t necessarily feel like they can take time off if they get sick,” Chidambaramm told NPR. “They feel like they have to continue to go into work. And especially when you’re talking about a setting like a long-term care setting where the people that long-term care workers are working with are at high risk, that can be deadly.”