The per-resident rate of new COVID-19 infections continues to plummet in skilled nursing facilities, with a two percentage point drop and a likely continued downward trend. “There is light at the end of the tunnel, and we don’t think it’s a train,” said a participant in a recent NIC Community Connector™ Meetup.
Nursing homes have disproportionately suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, housing some of those most vulnerable to the virus. Over the past year, the rate of new COVID-19 cases among skilled nursing residents moved nearly in tandem with the rate of new cases within the nation as a whole. However, the distribution and administration of vaccines looks to be having an impact on this susceptible population.
Staffing shortages continue to be a serious concern and a contributing factor driving the high number of cases and fatalities across the four regions. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) provides up-to-date information on the incidence of COVID-19 cases among nursing facilities as well as fatality statistics associated with COVID-19. The NIC Skilled Nursing COVID-19 Tracker (Tracker) was recently updated to include fatality counts. This is the fourth sorting metric available in the Tracker. The other sorting options include same-store occupancy (CMS data), new COVID-19 confirmed cases as a share of residents, and new COVID-19 confirmed cases per same store facilities. Data for November 29 showed that Midwest properties continued to report high numbers of new COVID cases: 6,574 among staff/personnel and 6,663 new residents’ cases within 4,104 facilities. This accounted for over 40% of overall new cases and was equivalent to 2.65% rate of newly confirmed cases among residents. This was the highest rate recorded across all four U.S. regions since CMS began reporting nursing homes COVID-19 data in late May. The South reported the second highest rate at 1.53%, followed by the Northeast (1.22%), and West (1.01%).
Since May 31, 2020, NIC has been publishing a regular updated weekly surveillance report on the incidence of COVID-19 cases among residents in our nation’s nursing care properties. Using raw data collected and reported by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), NIC’s Skilled Nursing COVID-19 Tracker (Tracker) reports CMS nursing home data and provides insights into the rate of virus spread within skilled nursing properties.