More than 10,000 residents and staff in long-term care facilities across the U.S. have died from COVID-19 infections, according to a KFF analysis of state data. That number is an undercount since not all states are currently reporting such data.
Among those reporting data, the largest death tolls as of April 23 were in several Northeastern states, including New York (3,505 deaths), New Jersey (2,050), Massachusetts (1,205) and Pennsylvania (845). The data also show that there have been nearly 51,000 infections with COVID-19 at more than 4,000 long-term care facilities in the 36 states reporting such data. New Jersey reported the highest number of cases (11,608) and North Dakota the least (61).
Residents of long-term care facilities are among the most vulnerable to infection and serious illness from COVID-19, given the population density in such facilities and residents’ underlying health conditions. Moreover, nearly 40 percent of nursing homes in the U.S. had infection control deficiencies in 2017, a problem that may contribute to high numbers of cases and deaths.
Long-term care facilities account for a notable share of all COVID-19 cases and deaths in many states. In six states – Colorado, Delaware, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Utah – such deaths account for over 50 percent of all COVID-19 deaths. Overall, cases in long-term care facilities make up 11 percent of all coronavirus cases in the 29 states that report cases. Deaths in long-term care facilities account for 27 percent of all deaths in the 23 states that report deaths.
“The situation in many nursing homes is an emergency. It may be time to consider sending military health response teams to nursing homes and temporarily moving nursing home residents who are able to community and rural hospitals where there is room,” said Drew Altman, KFF’s President and CEO.
Until recently, there was no federal requirement for nursing homes to report coronavirus outbreaks and COVID deaths, leading to an information gap for families, residents, and policymakers. On April 19, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released guidance that would require nursing homes to report cases of coronavirus directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This data is not yet available.
KFF is gathering data obtainable through state COVID reporting or state press releases. We include all available long-term care facility data reported by state, including cases among both residents and staff, where available. Definition of long-term care facility differs by state, but data reflects a combination of nursing facilities, residential care communities, adult care centers, intermediate care facilities, and/or other congregate settings.