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New Casey, Wyden Report on Nursing Homes: 11 Nursing Home Residents Died Per Hour from COVID-19

Report Highlights Solutions to Slow the Spread of COVID-19 in Nursing Homes, Which Has Taken the Lives of More Than 78,000 Residents and Workers Across the Country

Washington, D.C. – More than eight months into the pandemic, the Trump Administration still does not have a comprehensive plan to protect nursing homes residents and workers from COVID-19. Today, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Ranking Member of the Special Committee on Aging, and Ron Wyden (D-OR), Ranking Member of the Finance Committee released a new report that analyzed data reported to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by nursing homes for July and August. The data show persistent shortages of personal protective equipment, testing, and staffing in nursing homes and that on average during that time, more than one resident was infected every minute and 11 residents died every hour.

“The public health crisis that is continuing to ravage nursing homes across the country is unfathomable. Since the pandemic began, more than 78,000 nursing home residents and workers in nursing homes and other long-term care settings have died from the virus, and it didn’t have to be this way,” the Senators said. “This report describes the horrifying reality in nursing homes—where 16,800 residents and workers died from COVID-19 in July and August alone—and lays out solutions to save lives going forward. Instead of working with Democrats to address the tragedy that this report lays bare, President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have focused all their time and energy jamming conservative extremists onto federal courts, now scorning the will of the voters to do the same on the Supreme Court.”

Despite early warning signs and continued calls from states, local communities, industry and advocates for additional funding, enhanced coordination and federal leadership, the Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress continue to fail to deliver needed aid to nursing homes, their residents and their workers. As a result, week by week, the death toll in nursing homes continues to climb. This report underscores these realities:

• Growing Death Toll: More than 16,800 nursing home residents and workers died of COVID-19 in July 2020 and August 2020. During those months, on average, more than one nursing home resident was infected every minute, and 11 residents died every hour;

• Severe PPE Shortages Remain: The number of nursing homes reporting PPE shortages tripled from July 5, 2020 to August 30, 2020, as inadequate supplies of basic safety equipment like N95 masks persisted;

• Inadequate COVID-19 Testing: Nursing homes still lack adequate testing capacity. As of August 30, 2020, more than 700 nursing homes—nearly five percent of the Nation’s total—reported having no ability to test all residents or workers within the next seven days;

• Critical Workforce Shortages Continue: Nursing homes continue to be severely short-staffed, with roughly one in five nursing homes nationwide reporting shortages of nursing aides and one in seven reporting shortages of nurses; and

• Poor Data Collection: The Trump Administration is still not tracking nursing home COVID-19 cases and deaths prior to May 1, 2020, and it is still not collecting vital demographic data, including on race and ethnicity, on COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes.

This report follows up on the July report, the “COVID-19 in Nursing Homes: How the Trump Administration Failed Residents and Workers.” Both reports provided a series of recommendations outlining the urgent actions that are needed to address the crisis in nursing homes. These include ensuring comprehensive data collection, providing states and nursing homes with funding, supplying adequate PPE and testing, investing in home and community-based services and supporting nursing home workers with premium pay, overtime and other essential benefits and upholding resident rights and resuming visitation safely. Many of those recommendations were included in a bill introduced by Senators Casey and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), the Nursing Home COVID-19 Protection and Prevention Act (S. 3768), which would provide $20 billion to help states, nursing homes and other congregate settings implement strategies to reduce the spread of COVID-19.