According to a new analysis of data collected state-by-state from long-term care facilities, nursing homes and assisted living facilities account for 42 percent of all deaths attributed to Covid-19, and in Alabama the share is 43.7 percent.
It was well known that the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 affects the elderly far more severely, but the “most underappreciated” aspect of the virus outbreak is “its effect on a specific population of Americans: those living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities,” according to the study, conducted by the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity.
The study focused on two types of long-term care facilities: nursing homes and residential care communities, also called assisted living facilities.
“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2.1 million people live in nursing homes or residential care facilities, representing 0.6 percent of the U.S. population. And yet residents in such facilities account for 42 percent of all deaths from COVID-19, for states that report such statistics,” the study found.
Data and calculations of the FREOPP study are available in an online spreadsheet for public review.
“The policy implications of these figures are significant and suggest substantial flaws in the way that we have managed the Covid-19 pandemic,” the FREOPP study concludes. “Much more attention must be paid to the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection in nursing homes, especially through nursing home staff who work at multiple facilities. Nursing homes must use best practices for testing and cleanliness.
“On the flip side, it would appear that elderly individuals who do not live in nursing homes may be at a somewhat lower, while still significant, risk for hospitalization and death due to Covid-19. States and localities should consider reorienting their policy responses away from younger and healthier people, and toward the elderly, and especially elderly individuals living in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.”
FREOPP is a nonprofit that conducts research on expanding economic opportunity for those with the least economic resources. Its research is aimed at changes in public policy.