The COVID-19 death rate in U.S. nursing homes hit a new high in the weeks surrounding New Year’s Day, a new AARP analysis of federal data shows. It found that roughly 1 in every 51 residents died from COVID-19 over the four-week period from Dec. 21 to Jan. 17. A total of 19,299 deaths were reported.
The death rate captured in the analysis topped that of previous four-week reporting periods, making it the highest COVID-19 death rate reported to the government since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) began requiring nursing homes to do so in late May.
While the record high death rate in the four weeks ending Jan. 17 represents only a slight increase from the previous month, when 1 in every 53 residents died from COVID-19, it is more than a quadrupling of the resident death rate at the end of the summer.
Twenty-three states and Washington, D.C., saw their resident death rates climb from the previous four-week reporting period, the analysis shows. Indiana recorded the highest death rate in the U.S., with roughly 1 in every 28 residents having died from COVID-19.
The analysis also shows that for the first time in months, the national rate of new COVID-19 infections among both residents and staff of nursing homes is coming down. Cases dropped slightly, from roughly 1 in every 9 residents between mid-November and mid-December to roughly 1 in every 11 residents between mid-December and mid-January. The infection rate also dropped slightly among nursing home staff, from around 1 staff infection for every 11 residents to 1 for every 12 residents for the same reporting periods.
It’s welcome news, given that nursing homes, along with other long-term care settings such as assisted living facilities, have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Feb. 4, almost 162,000 residents and staff of long-term care facilities have died from COVID-19, according to the COVID Tracking Project, accounting for roughly 36 percent of all U.S. COVID-19 fatalities.