With coronavirus cases surging across the country, a new KFF analysis finds the number of COVID-19 deaths among residents and staff in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities now exceeds 100,000. The U.S. surpassed the deadly milestone as of November 24, when the cumulative number of long-term care facility COVID-19 deaths reached 100,033, based on reports from 49 states and Washington D.C.
The death toll is rising at a time when experts fear that daily coronavirus case counts will climb to new heights as families gather over the holidays and Americans spend more time indoors due to winter weather.
Nationwide, deaths in long-term care facilities account for 40 percent of all COVID-19 deaths, a share that has been largely consistent over time. In 18 states, data indicate that half or more COVID-19 deaths in the state have occurred in long-term care facilities. In April, about a month into the pandemic, the number of deaths from COVID-19 among residents and staff of long-term care facilities stood at 16,556, based on data from 30 states.
While early action to prevent the spread of coronavirus in long-term care facilities led to stricter protocols related to testing, personal protective equipment (PPE) and visitor restrictions, some of these measures have been reversed in recent months, and some long-term care facilities continue to report shortages of PPE and staff.
The disproportionate number of COVID-19 deaths in long-term care facilities serves as a reminder that residents and staff in these places continue to bear a high burden of the uncontrolled pandemic. And it raises questions about whether nursing homes and other facilities are able to protect their residents and, if not, what actions can to be taken to mitigate the threat posed by the virus.