COVID-19 and Nursing Homes: Examining New National Data

Alex Brill and Benedic Ippolito | AEIdeas

The first widely reported COVID-19 deaths in the United States were nursing home patients in Washington State on February 28. Numerous accounts of similar outbreaks soon followed, including 47 deaths at a nursing home in Minnesota (as of April 30), 54 deaths at a nursing home in Massachusetts (as of May 4), and 81 deaths at a facility in New Jersey (as of May 27).

Understanding the extent of the COVID-19 pandemic within nursing homes requires comprehensive and systematic data. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released the first national data on nursing home COVID-19 cases and deaths. Though these data are not yet complete, the findings are stark: 31,782 COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents (as of May 31), accounting for nearly one-third of all known COVID-19 deaths in the United States. The former director of the CDC rightly termed nursing homes “ground zero” for COVID-19.

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