As of Jan. 12, at least 136,000 COVID-19 deaths have been reported among residents and employees of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities for older adults in the United States, according to a New York Times database. The pandemic has led to record-low occupancy rates at nursing homes and senior living communities nationwide as fewer people move in, and many facilities are bleeding money amid significant costs increases for labor, personal protective equipment and increased infection control efforts. But in the long run, the industry will recover, experts said in a BisNow article published Tuesday.

“The pandemic will wane and the same forces driving its growth, namely demographic trends and the fact that such care is need-based, will come back into play,” the media outlet reported.

Recovery certainly is beginning, the article noted, as the industry is currently on track to hit its March 1 target date for all residents of U.S. nursing homes to have received their COVID-19 vaccinations. This should help repair some of the reputational damage the sector has faced, as it “ sinks in that the elderly and infirm are the most susceptible wherever they live,” Ben Swett of Irving Levin Associates told BisNow. Senior living communities overall lag nursing homes in vaccinations, however.

The recent lack of development within the sector has been another factor supporting its recovery, noted American Healthcare Investors founding partner Danny Prosky.

“Development, which had already been slowing down, really dropped precipitously in 2020,” Prosky told the media outlet. “As people start to move in again, that fact will improve the industry’s fundamentals, though the impact will probably take a few years.”