COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 100,000 long-term care residents and staff through November, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of state-reported data.
And providers are bracing for a post-holiday surge in coronavirus cases as cold weather moves gatherings indoors and community spread infiltrates congregate care settings.
“Post-Thanksgiving surges in cases are unlikely to spare this community and will likely lead to an even higher death toll in long-term care facilities, raising questions about whether nursing homes and other facilities are able to protect their residents and, if not, what actions can be taken to mitigate the threat posed by the virus,” KFF analysts stated.
COVID-19 has claimed the lives of 100,033 residents and staff in nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, adult care centers, intermediate care facilities and other long-term care facilities as of the last week in November, according to KFF. The organization said the number reflects both an increase in deaths and the number of states reporting over time.
The organization noted this is likely an undercount as five states — Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nebraska and West Virginia — have not updated their long-term care death totals in more than a week, and Alaska does not provide data on long-term care facility deaths.
Analysts added that the number of states independently reporting COVID-19-related long-term care deaths increased from 30 in April to 50 in November, but that state reporting varies widely. Some states, for example, include assisted living and other residential care facilities in their COVID-19 death counts, whereas other states limit their counts to nursing facilities.
Nationwide, long-term care facility deaths account for 40% of all COVID-19 deaths and at least half of all COVID-19 deaths in 18 states. In New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut, long-term care COVID-19 deaths account for more than 70% of coronavirus deaths in those states.
The Kaiser Family Foundation gathered information on data and policy actions by states to address the pandemic. Early actions included testing, personal protective equipment and visitor restrictions. But analysts noted that several of these measures have been reversed in recent months, and some long-term care facilities continue reporting issues related to PPE and staffing shortages.
Argentum recently said the senior living industry is in “jeopardy” and called on Congress and the administration for targeted, direct relief for assisted living, independent living, memory care and continuing care retirement communities.