Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities for older adults appear to be one of the major sources for coronavirus cases and deaths.
On Saturday, the New York Times reported that at least 54,000 residents and workers have died from COVID-19 at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. And while 11 percent of the country’s cases have occurred in these facilities, they make up more than 43 percent of the country’s deaths from the virus.
Looking at state data, the numbers are even worse. In at least 24 of the 50 states, the number of residents and workers who have died accounts for either half or more than half of all COVID deaths. New Hampshire leads the way with 80 percent of its COVID-19 deaths linked to nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
This is not just an American phenomenon. In April, Hans Kluge, the top official for the World Health Organization for Europe, said that up to half of those who have died from COVID-19 were residents in long-term-care facilities.
People who live in nursing homes are at higher risk from COVID-19, as this virus is particularly dangerous for the elderly and people with pre-existing health conditions. Factor in confined spaces with multiple residents and workers who come in and out, and it’s easy to understand why these facilities account for such a high percentage of cases and deaths.
While much attention has focused on rising numbers of cases in much of the country, we must still do what we can to protect our most vulnerable population.