The latest release of AARP’s Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard depicts a worsening crisis from coast to coast, including Virginia. In the four-week period ending December 20, more than half of nursing homes in the state reported residents with confirmed cases of Coronavirus, nearly 87% had at least one staff member diagnosed, and 49% of all virus deaths in the state were nursing home residents.

The number of nursing homes in Virginia with confirmed COVID-19 cases among residents rose from 33% to 53% from November to December, and from 57% to 87% with staff COVID-19 cases, the dashboard shows.

“After nine months and $55 million in taxpayer funded support, it’s unconscionable that Virginia nursing homes are seeing such huge spikes in the number of resident and staff cases,” said AARP Virginia State Director Jim Dau. “Vaccines offer hope and should be provided to every nursing home resident and staffer immediately, but they won’t address the underlying problems with infection control that were bad even before the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Virginia’s nursing homes have tripled in the last three months. From September 2020 to December 2020, nursing homes reported that:

- New confirmed cases among residents increased from 3.5 to 10.4 per 100 residents

- New confirmed cases among staff increased from 2.6 to 7.1 per 100 residents

- Deaths among residents increased from .5 to 1.52 per 100 residents

During the four-week period ending December 20, nearly half of all COVID-19 virus deaths in Virginia were people who lived in nursing homes, 15 percentage points higher than the national average of 34%. Only 10 states had a higher percentage of total COVID-19 deaths – Ohio had the most, with nursing home residents accounting for 91% of all virus deaths during the period. Hawaii had the lowest, with no nursing home virus deaths during the period.

Shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) have declined slightly over the same period, from 15.8% of nursing homes without a one-week supply in October to 14.9% in December. Meanwhile, staffing shortages remain a concern, with 19% of facilities reporting a shortage in the most recent dashboard, an improvement from 25% change going back to June 2020.

“Given that most nursing homes reported staff infections and resident cases, it is alarming that many facilities still do not have adequate PPE,” Dau said.

During the Virginia General Assembly session, AARP Virginia urged lawmakers to improve staff-to-resident ratios and standards of care.

“The continuing Coronavirus crisis in nursing homes also spotlights the life-and-death need for fundamental reforms, now, and AARP Virginia is fighting for change during the Virginia General Assembly,” Dau said. “For years, the nursing home industry in Virginia has struggled with poor infection control, understaffing, and quality of care issues.”

The AARP COVID-19 Nursing Home Dashboard analyzes federally reported data in four-week periods going back to June 1, 2020. Earlier this year, AARP fought for public reporting of nursing home COVID-19 cases and deaths. Using this data, the AARP Public Policy Institute, in collaboration with the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Ohio, created the dashboard to provide snapshots of the virus’ infiltration into nursing homes and impact on nursing home residents and staff, with the goal of identifying specific areas of concern at the national and state levels in a timely manner.

The full COVID-19 Nursing Home Dashboard is available at www.aarp.org/nursinghomedashboard. For more information on how COVID is impacting nursing homes and AARP’s advocacy on this issue, visit www.aarp.org/nursinghomes.