- Long-term care facility residents and workers make up one-third of US coronavirus deaths, according to a new database from The New York Times.
- In about a dozen states, they account for more than half of all deaths from the virus.
- Nursing homes have been considered “death pits” during coronavirus due to residents’ age and underlying conditions, as well as tight quarters and overburdened staff.
- Prior estimates suggested COVID-19 deaths related to long-term care facilities made up about 20% of total US deaths. In Europe, the proportion is closer to 50%.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
About one-third of all coronavirus deaths in the US are residents or workers in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, according to an interactive database compiled by The New York Times.
The figure is startling, given that only 10% of coronavirus cases occur in such facilities, and less than 0.5% of Americans live in them.
Long-term care facilities — which in this case includes nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, memory care facilities, retirement and senior communities, and rehabilitation facilities — in certain states have been particularly affected, with residents and workers making up more than half the states’ coronavirus deaths, the report found.
The Times’ data are based “official confirmations from states, counties, and the facilities themselves” since there’s a lack of comprehensive data from some states and the federal government, according to the report’s authors, Karen Yourish, K.K. Rebecca Lai, Danielle Ivory, and Mitch Smith.
The database includes deaths of residents and, where available, employees. “Given the wide variability in the type of information available, the totals shown here almost certainly represent an undercount of the true toll,” the team wrote.
Nursing homes have been hotbeds for coronavirus cases and deaths since the beginning of the outbreak in the US
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers nursing home residents to be a high-risk population when it comes to contracting or dying from COVID-19, the illness the novel coronavirus causes.
Not only are residents vulnerable because they’re older and tend to have underlying conditions, but they also often live in close quarters and are cared for by burdened staff who frequently travel between rooms.
“They’re death pits,” Betsy McCaughey, a former lieutenant governor of New York who founded the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths told The New York Times on April 17. “These nursing homes are already overwhelmed. They’re crowded and they’re understaffed. One COVID-positive patient in a nursing home produces carnage.”
The first coronavirus deaths at a US nursing home occurred in suburban Seattle. By the end of March, at least 43 deaths were linked to the Life of Care Center in Kirkland, Washington, Business Insider previously reported.
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At least 94 residents and staff at the Long Island State Veterans Home at Stony Brook University contracted the virus, and 32 residents died.
On April 17, the Times reported that at least 7,000 people had died from COVID-19 associated with nursing homes, making up almost 20% coronavirus deaths in the US.
The publication’s latest findings — that at least 25,600 residents and workers have died from coronavirus related to long-term care facilities, making up one-third of US coronavirus deaths — suggest the earlier data was a grave underestimate, or that nursing home-related deaths are rising at a faster rate than coronavirus deaths in the general population, or likely, both.
In Europe, as many as half of COVID-19 related deaths occurred in long-term care facilities, the World Health Organization reported.
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