As the U.S. enters the fourth week of rising COVID-19 cases, nineteen states have reported increasing COVID-19 cases among the general population for the week ending March 21. According to the CDC, Michigan reported the highest increase in COVID-19 cases among the general population at 187%, up from 7,313 cases during the week ending Feb 21 to 20,982 on March 21. Interesting and in contrast, skilled nursing facilities in Michigan reported a 55% decline in newly confirmed cases among residents over the same week-over-week period.
New cases of COVID-19 in skilled nursing facilities account for just a quarter of 1% of U.S. cases overall, down from over 5% of cases in June 2020. NIC’s new interactive data visualization tool shows a divergence as case counts among the general population rise in some parts of the U.S., while those in skilled nursing facilities continue to decline. U.S. weekly COVID-19 infections are rising again across several states despite ongoing vaccination efforts. Although we are on the road to herd immunity and case count data in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) suggest that vaccines are indeed effective, the recent uptick in U.S. cases indicates that it is still important to remain vigilant and continue to be cautious regarding enthusiasm about beating the pandemic. It is too early to let our guards down.
As vaccinations rise and COVID-19 case counts fall in skilled nursing facilities, CMS has revised its guidelines for nursing home visits. Effective on Wednesday, March 10, 2021, nursing homes are allowing residents and their loved ones to finally reunite, hug and hold hands after one year of isolation and psychological burden. This is a long-awaited relief for both residents and loved ones.