COVID-19 LTC Deaths and Cases Are at An All-Time Low, Though a Rise In LTC Cases in a Few States May Be Cause for Concern

Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare

The title of this blog is also the title of a just-released Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) report.   I’m providing two (2) of the tables with corresponding data notes for this blog in hope that your interest will be tweaked and you read the entire report.  You may also want to bookmark and check the KFF Coronavirus Tracker Dashboard periodically. 

“A data note looking at state-reported LTCF data finds COVID-19 deaths and cases among residents and staff of long-term care facilities have fallen dramatically since vaccinations began in December, with deaths declining by nearly 89 percent and cases declining by nearly 92 percent as of April 2021.

Since December 2020, the US has fully vaccinated over 1.4 million residents in long-term care facilities (LTCF) and over 1 million LTCF staff. Since then, weekly deaths in nursing homes have continued to fall, much of which has been attributed to the high rates of vaccination among nursing home residents. LTCFs include a range of facilities, including nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other congregate care facilities for people with disabilities or older adults. This data note looks at state-reported LTCF data from 41 states plus Washington DC to assess what has happened to new deaths and cases in LTCFs in the four months since vaccinations began on December 21st, 2020. We also examine how recent changes in deaths and cases in LTCFs have shifted the nature of the pandemic outside of LTCFs. Data in this analysis is as of the week of April 11th, 2021.”

  • Of the 39 states (38 states plus DC) for which we can trend COVID-19 deaths in LTCFs, 21 states reported an all-time low death rate in April 2021. Five states reported zero LTCF deaths per 100,000 state residents in April 2021, a rounded value that represents a very small number of LTCF deaths in those states (Table 1 and Appendix Table 1).
  • Since vaccinations began in mid-December 2020, the number of COVID-19 deaths in LTCFs across all states in this analysis has declined by 89% as of April 2021, from 1.7 deaths per 100,000 state residents to 0.2 deaths per 100,000 state residents (Table 1 and Appendix Table 1).
  • Both nationally and in most states, the share of deaths attributed to LTCFs has dropped since the start of vaccinations in December 2020 (Table 1), indicating a faster decline in death rates in LTCFs than in the community.
  • Similar to LTCF deaths, average new weekly cases in LTCFs hit an all-time low in April 2021, with two states (Kansas and Mississippi) reporting zero new LTCF cases per 100,000 state residents that month (Table 2 and Appendix Table 2).
  • New cases in LTCFs dropped by 92% between December 2020 and April 2021, a pattern that is reflected in state-level data as well (Table 2 and Appendix Table 2). 
  • Reflecting a potentially troubling trend of increasing community spread, eight states reported increases in LTCF cases from March to April 2021 (Table 2 and Appendix Table 2).