The COVID-19 pandemic has swept the nation, killing more than 184,000 residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. The AARP Public Policy Institute, in collaboration with the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Ohio, created the AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard to provide four-week snapshots of the virus’ infiltration into nursing homes and impact on nursing home residents and staff, with the goal of identifying specific areas of concern at the national and state levels in a timely manner. This dashboard has tracked five categories of impact since summer 2020 and will be updated every month to track trends over time. This month’s dashboard also includes, for the first time, data on the vaccination rates of nursing home residents and health care staff.
The PPE measures used throughout the dashboard have been discontinued as of the week ending 3/14/2021. We continue to track PPE shortages with a different measure that is not comparable to previous months.
This page was updated on July 19 to correct errors in the CMS data for 3 nursing homes (in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Texas) about the number of staff or residents able to be vaccinated.
The AARP Public Policy Institute is analyzing data and reporting on key findings as the AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard is updated each month. This July 2021 dashboard release shows how the COVID-19 situation in nursing homes has continued to evolve.
This July dashboard, including data from May 24 to June 20, reports vaccination data for the first time. There is considerable variation between states in the percentage of residents and health care staff that are fully vaccinated.
- Nationally, about 78% of nursing home residents have been fully vaccinated. At the state level, the percentage ranges from a low of 63% in Arizona to a high of 95% in Vermont.
- Nationally, about 56% of health care staff in nursing homes have been fully vaccinated. At the state level, the percentage ranges from a low of 41% in Louisiana to a high of 84% in Hawaii.
- As of the week ending 6/20/21, only 20% of nursing homes (1 in 5 facilities) had reached an industry threshold of at least 75% of staff vaccinated. There were only five states – Hawaii (86%), California (66%), Vermont (55%), New Hampshire (51%), and Washington DC (50%) – in which even half of the facilities met this minimum standard.
There is a strong relationship between vaccination rates of staff and vaccination rates of residents. This means that in states where the vaccination rate of staff is low, there are also more unvaccinated residents who are vulnerable to a resurgence of the virus.
The percentage of nursing homes that have an urgent need for PPE increased from 3.6% to 5% (about 1 in 20 facilities) in the four weeks ending 6/20/21. This represents the first increase in PPE shortages since the dashboard began tracking last summer and is similar to the rate reported two months ago, for the four weeks ending 4/18/21.
After several months of stagnation, the rates of new COVID-19 cases in nursing homes have begun to fall again.
- The rate of new resident cases in the four weeks ending 6/20/21 was 0.17 per 100 residents (about 1 out of every 600 residents). This is a decline of about half from 0.36 per 100 residents in the four weeks ending 5/16/21.
- The rate of new staff cases in the four weeks ending 6/20/21 was 0.26 per 100 residents (about 1 for every 400 residents). This is a decline of about two-thirds from 0.77 per 100 residents in the four weeks ending 5/16/21.
COVID-19 resident deaths also declined from the four weeks ending 5/16/21, from 0.08 to 0.06 per 100 residents (less than 1 out of every 1500 residents).
The percentage of nursing homes that reported a shortage of direct care staff (nurses and/or aides) increased to 24% (nearly 1 out of every 4 facilities). This represents the third consecutive month of small increases from a pandemic low of 22% during the four weeks ending 3/21/21. However, the percentage remains lower than throughout 2020 and early 2021 when more than 25% of facilities had a staffing shortage.
Since the pandemic started, scant data has been available consistently to help gain a better understanding of the crisis in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. The country counted mainly on the reporting of news media to glimpse the devastation caused by COVID-19. Organizations such as Kaiser Family Foundation and the COVID Tracking Project also began collecting and publishing vital information from the states. It is important to note that each source collects data differently, so similar information may appear at odds due to variation in precise definitions, types of people and settings included in the measure, and the timeliness and completeness of data collection. Specific to nursing homes:
- Many states have required self-reporting by nursing homes and/or other long-term care facilities, but the requirements vary widely. Some states combine data for nursing homes and other long-term care facilities such as assisted living; others combine resident and staff cases and deaths, while others provide limited or no data at all.
- In May 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) required nursing homes to self-report COVID-19 cases and deaths on at least a weekly basis; these data are reported directly from nursing homes to the federal government and are consistent across all states. However, the required reporting was not retroactive. As a result, there is a significant undercounting of cases and deaths before June 2020 in this data source.
- Beginning in June 2020, the data reported by CMS and by individual states appear to be roughly comparable, though exact comparisons are difficult because of the inconsistency in state reporting.
- In May 2021, CMS issued an interim final rule and guidance requiring the reporting of nursing home resident and staff vaccination status. Vaccination data were first reported for the week ending May 30, 2021, and were mandated as of the week ending June 13, 2021.
More than 184,000 residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have died from COVID-19, representing about one-third of all coronavirus fatalities in the U.S. Yet federal policymakers were slow to respond to this crisis, and no state has done a good enough job to stem the loss of life.
AARP has called for the enactment of a 5-point plan to protect nursing home and long-term care facility residents—and save lives—at the federal and state levels:
- Prioritize regular and ongoing testing and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for residents and staff—as well as inspectors and any visitors.
- Improve transparency focused on daily, public reporting of cases and deaths in facilities; communication with families about discharges and transfers; and accountability for state and federal funding that goes to facilities.
- Ensure access to in-person visitation following federal and state guidelines for safety and require continued access to virtual visitation for all residents.
- Ensure quality care for residents through adequate staffing, oversight, and access to in-person formal advocates, called long-term care Ombudsmen.
- Hold long-term care facilities accountable when they fail to provide adequate care to residents.
The federal government has taken some action, such as requiring nursing homes to self-report COVID-19 cases and deaths at the federal level, ordering testing, providing limited PPE and other resources to nursing homes, establishing requirements for education on and offering of COVID-19 vaccine to residents and staff, and reporting of nursing home resident and staff vaccination status as well as issuing guidance for in-person visitation to resume. AARP continues to urge elected officials to take action to combat this national tragedy, make sure it does not happen again, and ensure that public funds provided to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are used for testing, PPE, staffing, virtual visits, and for the health and safety of residents.
While COVID-19 nursing home deaths and cases are down considerably from peak levels several months ago, COVID-19 deaths, new cases, and PPE and staffing shortages in the four weeks are still far from zero. Nursing homes continue to face chronic underlying problems that leave residents and staff vulnerable.
AARP has also been leading the way in helping Americans get the facts about the COVID-19 vaccines so they can decide what’s best for them and their families.
AARP also continues engaging CMS and urging the agency to remain vigilant in the effort to protect long-term care facility residents and staff. A recent AARP letter to CMS included recommendations that the federal government commits to working with states, long-term care facilities, and other entities, as needed, to ensure that those facilities can access and administer vaccines on a continuing basis for the foreseeable future.
AARP will continue to shine a light on what’s happening in nursing homes so that families have the information they need to make decisions, and lawmakers can be held accountable. For more information, visit aarp.org/nursinghomes.
All nursing home data are from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Nursing Home COVID-19 Public File (downloaded most recently on 7/1/2021). These data are self-reported by facilities to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at least weekly. The five dashboard measures use this CMS data source.
The PPE measures previously used in the dashboard have been discontinued as of the week ending 3/14/2021. We continue to track PPE shortages with a different measure that is not comparable to previous months.
Several data points in the state fact sheets include general population state data (that is, not limited to nursing homes) as a denominator or stand-alone measure. These data are from the COVID Tracking Project (statewide positivity rate; downloaded most recently on 2/25/2021) and USAFacts (total deaths and cases in the state; downloaded most recently on 7/1/2021).
Data were analyzed by Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Ohio; additional analysis and preparation of the dashboard by the AARP Public Policy Institute.
· COVID-19 deaths (residents): Total number of residents with suspected COVID-19 or a positive COVID-19 test result who died in the facility or another location as a result of COVID-19 related complications.
· Total deaths (residents): This count includes new COVID-19 related deaths and non-COVID-19 related deaths. Includes residents who died in another location, such as a hospital.
· COVID-19 deaths (staff): The number of deaths for staff and facility personnel with suspected COVID-19 or a positive COVID-19 test result.
· COVID-19 cases: Number of residents, or staff and facility personnel, with new laboratory positive COVID-19 test results, as reported by the facility.
· PPE shortage: Having an “urgent need” for each type of PPE, meaning that the nursing home will run out within seven days if additional supply is not found. For the “all PPE” measure, a shortage refers to having a shortage of one or more of the five categories: N95 masks, facemasks, eye protection, gowns, and gloves.
· Staffing shortage: Identified staffing shortage for each personnel category based on facility needs and internal policies for staffing ratios for at least one week out of the four weeks in the reporting period.
· COVID-19 vaccinations: Count of individuals who have a completed vaccination, meaning that they have received all required shots; in the dashboard, we may refer to these as fully vaccinated. Individuals who are not fully vaccinated include those who are partially vaccinated, medically contraindicated, refused vaccination, or vaccination status unknown.
CDC has issued detailed instructions to nursing homes for reporting these data:
For the four-week measures, nursing facilities were included only if the facility reported to CDC for all four weeks (nationally, 95% of facilities for the most recent four-week period, for states ranging from 82% to 100%). If a nursing facility reported but had missing data for a specific measure (this is rare), that facility is excluded from the calculation of that measure for the dashboard.
Most nursing facilities with missing data are only missing the most recent week (ending 6/20/2021). That is, most missing data are due to late responses, not skipped entirely. To have the most current data possible, we must exclude those facilities that were late in reporting the most recent week of data as well as those with one or more weeks of non-response in earlier weeks.
Vaccination data points are based on the most current week of data for each facility, as long as it is within the last four weeks. Facilities do not need to report for all four weeks in order to be included; one week of good data is sufficient. Facilities with missing or implausible data for each of the last four weeks are excluded from the calculation.
Aggregate counts of deaths and cases may be an undercount if there are facilities that are not reporting. Percentages or rates might be slightly biased if the average of non-reporting facilities differs significantly from the average of reporting facilities.
For the measures of cases and deaths “since 6/1/2020” and “since January 2020”, all nursing homes reporting at least one week of data are included. The national response rate is greater than 99% for both measures.
Comparability to Other Data Sources
The first reporting date for the CMS Nursing Home COVID-19 data was May 24, 2020, and includes all cases and deaths that were reported since the beginning of the year; however, retroactive reporting is not mandatory, and the accuracy of reporting at the state level is unknown. Vaccination data were first reported for the week ending May 30, 2021, and are mandated as of the week ending June 13, 2021.
Data points that go back prior to the first reporting date, including the “since January 2020” counts of resident cases and deaths in the state fact sheets, may significantly undercount the total number of cases and deaths. At the national level, the CMS data source gives a significant undercount of the number of cases and deaths before June, compared to other sources that were reporting in real-time.
Since June, the CMS data are much more reliable and at the national level track well against data reported by the states (comparisons to individual states are difficult because each state categorizes and reports the data differently).
The state fact sheets include several measures of the percentage of total state deaths and cases that occurred among nursing home residents and nursing home staff. Because the denominator data is from a different source, the reported data may result in a percentage less than 0% or greater than 100%, which is impossible. The value of each such measure is capped at 100%, and values of less than 0% are marked as NA. These measures should not be used to compute the number of cases or deaths occurring outside of nursing homes.
Dashboard Special Report
- COVID Kills Over 12,000 Nursing Home Residents in Weeks Surrounding Thanksgiving
- AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard Special Report: Surge Continues Over Thanksgiving
Past Dashboard Coverage
- COVID-19 Still Killing 800 a Month in Nursing Homes, AARP Analysis Shows
- Nursing Homes Record Lowest Rates of COVID-19 Infection and Death
- COVID-19 Deaths in Nursing Homes Plummet, Staff & PPE Shortages Persist
- Nursing Homes Report Worst COVID-19 Death Rate on Record
- North Dakota Nursing Home Deaths Increase 11-Fold, New COVID-19 Analysis Shows
- Exclusive: Nursing Home Cases Skyrocket in 12 States Where COVID Is Surging
- Arkansas Reports Highest COVID-19 Infection Rate Among U.S. Nursing Home Residents
- South Carolina Reports Highest COVID-19 Death Rate Among U.S. Nursing Home Residents
- Exclusive: Half of U.S. Nursing Homes Have Staff Infected With COVID-19