Across the world, COVID-19’s impact on care facilities has been nothing short of horrific. Last month, a report by academics at the London School of Economics claimed that 64% of all Norwegian deaths linked to the coronavirus occurred in care homes, along with 57% in Canada and 49% in both Belgium and France. Similar trends are evident across the United States where COVID-19 is exerting a devastating toll on residents of care facilities. This became evident at the very start of America’s outbreak when the Life Care Center of Kirkland in King County, Washington, became an early coronavirus epicenter. Over three quarters of its residents contracted the disease while 40 died. By the end of the first week of April, COVID-19 had spread to 163 long-term care facilities in Washington state alone, killing more than 200 people.
Data from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) shows just how catastrophic the pandemic has proven for America’s most vulnerable communities. As of May 21, 2020, 7,732 long-term care facilities in 43 states had known cases of the coronavirus with 174,381 infections in total. At that time, 35,118 deaths were recorded in care facilities – 42% of all U.S. deaths attributed to COVID-19. As shocking as that figure may seem, it’s nearly twice as high in some parts of the country. According to the KFF, 81% of Minnesota’s COVID-19 deaths occurred in long-term care facilities, while the rates in Rhode Island and New Hampshire were 78% and 77%, respectively. Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, North Carolina and Massachusetts were among the states where care facilities accounted for more than 60% of all COVID-19 related deaths.
While the data seems to suggest that elderly residents in long-term care are most at risk from the virus, it’s important to note that this isn’t the case everywhere. New York state has close to 30,000 deaths (as of May 26) but it has the lowest share of deaths linked to care facilities in the KFF’s dataset at just 20%. Nevada (24%) and Tennessee (35%) were also among the states with the lowest COVID-19 death rates linked to care facilities. The KFF states that the definition of a long-term care facility differs by state. Its data reflects a combination of nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, adult care centers, intermediate care facilties, and/or other long-term care facilities.
*Click below to enlarge (charted by Statista)