Assisted living facilities are classic grounds for the coronavirus to spread, as they house an extremely vulnerable population. Residents of nursing homes tend to be older and have weaker immune systems, which makes them more susceptible to serious health issues that may be provoked by COVID-19. Additionally, the close quarters in addition to the coming and going of facility workers and nurses create a drastically increased risk of the virus entering facilities; and once the virus enters, it can spread rapidly.
It has been reported that nearly 40,600 nursing home residents have died as a result of COVID-19, which equates to a staggering 40% of the total United States death toll. When further broken down, this number approximates to 450 deaths each day in nursing homes alone
While these numbers are already quite high, it is expected that the actual death toll is even greater because data from seven states is not included in the calculation. These seven states – Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, and South Dakota – have yet to officially release statistics regarding the number of nursing home fatalities caused by COVID-19.
Additionally, how some states are calculating the number of fatalities in long-term care facilities is leading to an undercount. Certain states – specifically New York – excludes residents who were transferred to hospitals or other health care facilities and ultimately passed away there from the official count. Another seven states track deaths by matching the deceased’s permanent address to the address of the facility, which fails to account for the deceased who were staying at a facility short-term.
Despite this, these numbers still greatly surpass those that were released by the Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which reported that only 25,923 nursing home residents died as a result of COVID-19. Yet this number only accounts for deaths from federally regulated nursing homes and does not include long-term or assisted living facilities. Furthermore, 20% of facilities across the nation failed to report their death tolls. While the CMS encouraged facilities to report all deaths linked to COVID-19, it only requires those since May, which excludes months’ worth of deaths.
Not only have there been issues in how the deaths are being reported, but there are also concerns over the lack of facilities and states releasing the statistics. On the state level, there have been questions regarding how the data is being tracked and why it is not being released publicly.
Furthermore, from the data that has been gathered, the CMS only required assisted living facilities to report coronavirus deaths starting in early May, thus leaving a three-month gap without any reports, leaving researchers not knowing the full extent of the virus. This has caused concern amongst families and friends of those living in nursing homes as they too are not being informed about the conditions of what is taking place within the facilities.
If you have a loved one who lives in a nursing home that was impacted by the coronavirus and are concerned for their health and safety, do not hesitate to contact our office. Our legal team is here to assist you through any questions or concerns that you may have regarding personal injury during these uncertain times. Reach out today to discuss your options.
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