KFF: More than 100K died in nursing homes, long-term care facilities from COVID-19

Caregiver end of life care nursing home palliative care
Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have accounted for more than 100,000 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic. (Getty/KatarzynaBialasiewicz)

More than 100,000 residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, a new analysis from Kaiser Family Foundation.

Nationwide, the 100,033 deaths from long-term care facilities make up 40% of all COVID-19 deaths, according to the analysis released Wednesday.

“The disproportionate number of COVID-19 deaths in long-term care facilities serves as a reminder that residents and staff in these places continue to bear a high burden of the uncontrolled pandemic,” Kaiser said in a release. “And it raises questions about whether nursing homes and other facilities are able to protect their residents and, if not, what actions can to be taken to mitigate the threat posed by the virus.”

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The foundation discovered that in 18 states half or more of their COVID-19 deaths were linked to long-term care facilities.

In three states—New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut—nursing home and long-term care facility deaths accounted for more than 70% of the state’s COVID-19 deaths.

The disproportionate number of deaths comes as some nursing homes eased restrictions on visitors and come ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

“Post-Thanksgiving surges in cases are unlikely to spare this community and will likely lead to an even higher death toll in long-term care facilities, raising questions about whether nursing homes and other facilities are able to protect their residents,” the analysis said.

The analysis is based on data from states.

“The number of states independently reporting long-term deaths due to COVID-19 has increased from 30 states in April to 50 states (all but Alaska) in November, which suggests that the total number of deaths reported in the first few months of the pandemic is an undercount,” KFF said.

States can also vary widely on how they report deaths. Some have included assisted living and residential facilities while others only focused on deaths in nursing facilities.

RELATED: CMS increases penalties following nearly 26K COVID-19 nursing home deaths

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has made several moves aimed at clamping down on nursing homes that became major hot spots at the onset of the pandemic.

The agency rolled out new training and guidelines to nursing homes on infection control and other best practices.

The Department of Health and Human Services also announced last month it will dole out $333 million in performance payments to more than 10,000 nursing homes that reduced COVID-19 infections and deaths over a two-month period.