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Insights in Seniors Housing & Care

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By: Omar Zahraoui  |  April 15, 2021

Cases Among Skilled Nursing Facility Residents Falling Despite Rising Rates Among the General Population

COVID-19  |  Skilled Nursing  |  Skilled Nursing Tracker

On March 28, new cases of COVID-19 among skilled nursing facility staff were 2.4 times higher than among residents for the first time since CMS started reporting data in late May.

COVID-19 Cases – U.S. vs. Skilled Nursing Facilities (Week ending March 28 vs. February 21)

More than three months after the launch of the long-term care vaccination program, case counts continued to fall within U.S. skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) and remained relatively low even as cases among the general population roared back in recent weeks across half of U.S. states.

Overall, twenty-five states and geographies reported higher weekly COVID-19 infections among the general population. However, new COVID-19 infections within skilled nursing facilities declined and/or held steady across all U.S. states. The resurgence among the general population is occurring largely in the Midwest and Northeast.

In the Midwest, Michigan reported the highest increase in COVID-19 cases among the general population of all 50 states; cases there jumped 346% from February 21 to March 28, highs not seen since December 2020, while cases within skilled nursing facilities declined 36% over the same period. Virus trends continued to decrease and flatten in skilled nursing facilities in the entire Midwest.

In the Northeast, 8 out of 9 states reported higher cases of COVID-19 among the general population compared to February 21 levels. Only Maine reported a higher but relatively low case load among skilled nursing residents. The highest case count within SNFs was reported in New York – 157 new cases for the week ending March 28, but still down 58% from February 21 levels (376), whereas cases within the general population in New York increased by 23% over that same period.

In summary, case counts within SNFs are down 98% since December 20 and the launch of the long-term care vaccination program and accounted for less than a fifth of 1% of U.S. cases on March 28 (0.18%). As for per-resident rate of new COVID-19 infections, only 7 in 10,000 residents tested positive for COVID for the week ending March 28 compared to over 300 in 10,000 back on December 20, 2020. Additionally, forty-one states and geographies reported a total of 20 cases or less within their SNFs on March 28 (See NIC’s interactive tool at the end of this blog for more details).

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COVID-19 Cases – Residents vs. Staff (Skilled Nursing Facilities)

As COVID-19 infections picked up speed in recent weeks in some parts of the country, new cases among staff have been relatively higher than among residents. On March 28, reported new cases among staff were 2.4 times higher than among residents for the first time since CMS started reporting data in late May.

At the height of the pandemic and prior to the launch of the long-term care vaccination program, new cases among skilled nursing residents were 20% higher than among staff. However, the trend has reversed in recent weeks: newly confirmed cases among residents were 58% lower than among staff on March 28.

Additionally, about 97% of skilled nursing facilities across the U.S. reported no new COVID-19 cases among residents for the week ending March 28, these same facilities reported 83% of total virus cases among staff.

These numbers speak to the high vaccination rates among residents and lower acceptance of COVID-19 vaccine among staff. At this point in this 13-month pandemic, older Americans may indeed be safer in skilled nursing facilities than in the general population.

The success story of the long-term care vaccination program for skilled nursing facilities should continue to encourage not only skilled nursing staff but also the broader population to get vaccinated and help bring an end to the pandemic.

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Interactive Tool - Weekly COVID-19 Confirmed Cases | Skilled Nursing Facilities vs. U.S.

Choose specific regions or states from the dropdowns in the tool below to change the graphs, or any two weeks comparison in the (View All States tab) to compute the percent change.

NIC’s new interactive tool tracks the incidence of COVID-19 and provides a way to compare weekly infections of COVID-19 in skilled nursing facilities and in the U.S. and across regions, sub regions, and states. Data show

  • weekly confirmed cases in SNFs vs. U.S. (sort by region, sub region, or state)
  • per-resident rate of new COVID-19 infections within SNFs (all vs. specific region/state)
  • weekly confirmed cases among skilled nursing residents as a share of U.S. weekly cases.
  • States summary table (choose any two weeks comparison to compute the percent change).

The data is displayed in an easy-to-use interactive dashboard that allows sorts down to state level, with data updated weekly. Check back each week to see and compare current data. 

About Omar Zahraoui

Omar Zahraoui, a data analyst at the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC), is a seniors housing research professional with expertise in providing quantitative analysis and insights on seniors housing & care market data; building new products and reporting capabilities, including dashboards and proformas for clients and internal stakeholders; and implementing new processes and data solutions. Prior to his current role, Omar worked as a data analyst, at Calpine Corporation, supporting the development of new-business strategy initiatives, analyzing sales and financial data, and developing statistical modeling of consumers’ behaviors to drive business performance. Omar holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with concentrations in Finance and Management, a Master in Corporate Finance from IAE Lyon School of Management at Jean Moulin Lyon III University in France, and a Master of Science in Management Information Systems and Data Analytics from Pace University.

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