More than six months after the coronavirus began its deadly rampage through American nursing homes, where it has claimed tens of thousands of lives, more than a quarter of facilities nationwide are reporting shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and staff, and almost half have staff infected with COVID-19, an exclusive new AARP analysis of recent government data shows.
In some states, the numbers are much worse. In Maine, New Mexico and New Hampshire, for example, at least half of nursing homes reported insufficient PPE, defined as having less than a one-week supply of N95 respirators, surgical masks, eye protection, gowns and gloves.
In South Dakota and Kansas, more than half of nursing homes reported a shortage of nurses, aides or both, based on their facility's needs and policies for staffing ratios. And in Alabama, Tennessee and Florida, more than 70 percent of nursing homes reported COVID-19 infections among staff.
The new analysis draws on self-reported data from nursing homes collected by the federal government over four weeks from late August to late September. While some states fared much worse than others, all 50 states and the District of Columbia had one or more nursing homes that reported inadequate PPE supply, staff shortages, staff infections and resident cases. Forty-seven states reported at least one COVID-19 death among residents.
The analysis found that more than 28,000 residents tested positive for COVID-19 during the four-week reporting period, and more than 5,200 residents died, showing that the virus is still raging in nursing homes. More than 84,000 long-term care residents and staff have died since January, and more than 500,000 residents and staff have contracted the disease, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation's tally, accounting for roughly 40 percent of the national death toll. Long-term care providers include assisted living, adult day care centers and more, while AARP's new analysis features just nursing home data.
"This is a nationwide crisis, and no state is doing a good job,” says Bill Sweeney, AARP's senior vice president of government affairs, adding that the results of AARP's analysis are “profoundly disappointing.”