Nursing Home Deaths Are Rising Alarmingly

Figure of 3.6K nationwide may be an undercount
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 13, 2020 5:51 PM CDT
Nursing Home Deaths Linked to COVID-19 Soar
A sign is displayed at the Bethany Pointe Health Campus, Saturday, April 11, 2020, in Anderson, Ind.   (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

More than 3,600 deaths nationwide have been linked to coronavirus outbreaks in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, an alarming rise in just the past two weeks, according to the latest count by the AP. Because the federal government has not been releasing a count of its own, the AP has kept its own running tally based on media reports and state health departments. The latest count of at least 3,621 deaths is up from about 450 deaths just 10 days ago. But the true toll among the 1 million mostly frail and elderly people who live in such facilities is likely much higher, experts say, because most state counts don’t include those who died without ever being tested for COVID-19.

Outbreaks in the past few weeks have included one at a nursing home in suburban Richmond, Va., that has killed 42 and infected more than 100, another at a nursing home in central Indiana that has killed 24 and infected 16, and one at a veterans' home in Holyoke, Mass., that has killed 38, infected 88, and prompted a federal investigation. This comes weeks after an outbreak at a nursing home in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland that has so far claimed 43 lives. And those are just the outbreaks we know about. Most states provide only total numbers of nursing home deaths and don’t give details of specific outbreaks. Experts say nursing home deaths may keep climbing because of chronic staffing shortages that have been made worse by the coronavirus crisis, a shortage of protective supplies, and a continued lack of available testing.

(Read more coronavirus stories.)

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