Virginia has 2nd-highest COVID-19 nursing home death rate in US, AARP says

Virginia is second for COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes across the nation, according to AARP’s latest data.

The ranking comes as cases and deaths in nursing homes fell in the four weeks ending Feb. 14. Despite the decline, new infections and deaths in nursing homes are still more than twice as high as they were last summer, AARP said.

While deaths of Virginia nursing home residents are “more than a third lower than what they were in the previous time period, the state’s rate this period (1.72 deaths per 100 residents) is the second-highest in the nation,” according to an AARP news release.

Click to enlarge. (Courtesy AARP)

New infections among residents and staff also declined to less than half of previous levels during that time, with cases plunging from 14.2 to 5.4 per 100 residents, and new staff cases falling from 9.5 to 3.4 per 100 residents.

The AARP said its dashboard shows staffing and shortages of personal protective equipment “remain a significant problem” in Virginia, with 16.5% of facilities reporting “a shortage of nurses or aides in the most recent time period, the lowest since AARP began tracking this data.”

It said about 10% did not have a one-week supply of PPE in the last month.

“While we are encouraged by the downward trend in nursing home deaths, we continue to see disgracefully high numbers of cases and deaths in Virginia’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities compared to the rest of the country,” said Jim Dau, AARP Virginia state director.

But the Virginia Department of Health noted that AARP’s data referenced “a finding from a four-week period … when the Commonwealth was reporting its highest number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations” overall.

“When the Commonwealth was experiencing the absolute worst of the post-holiday surge of infections,” said Logan Anderson, a public information officer with the Virginia Department of Health.

The state’s health agency noted the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network said “only 6% of Virginia facilities had new resident cases of COVID-19, only 7% had new staff cases, and only 3% had new resident deaths” in a report issued on March 21.

D.C. ranked 11th in nursing home death rates, with 1.23 deaths per 100 residents, also above the national average. Maryland ranked below the national average, No. 26, with .86 deaths per 100 residents.

North Carolina topped the list with 1.97 deaths per 100 residents.

Matt Small

Matt joined WTOP News at the start of 2020, after contributing to Washington’s top news outlet as an Associated Press journalist for nearly 18 years.

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