COVID-19 deaths and cases in US nursing homes plunged more than 90% since vaccinations began, a leading industry group said
  • COVID-19 cases and deaths plunged in US nursing homes from December to March, a report said.
  • The decline is faster in nursing homes than elsewhere, said the industry group behind the report.
  • This drop can be attributed to the fast vaccine rollout in the US, the authors said.
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COVID-19 cases and deaths in nursing homes dropped by more than 90% in the months since vaccinations became available, a report from a trade association said on Tuesday. 

The decline can be linked to prioritization of vaccination in nursing homes, the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) said in a statement.

The AHCA/NCAL is a trade association which represents 14,000 member facilities caring for some 5 million people. It published its findings on Tuesday, covering the period from late December to early March.

The report looked at data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) between December 20, 2020 and March 7. Here are the figures: 

  • Weekly new cases of COVID-19 dropped by 96%, with 33,540 cases on December 20 vs. 1,349 cases on March 7.
  • Weekly confirmed COVID-19 deaths also dropped, by 91%, with 6,037 deaths in late December vs. 547 deaths early March.
  • The number of cases in nursing homes is falling faster than in the general population, with a decline of 96% in nursing homes compared to 72%, the report says.

The association said that the March 7 figures were the lowest numbers of weekly cases and of weekly deaths in nursing homes since data collection began in late May. 

The huge decline is “thanks to initial vaccine allocations prioritized for nursing homes” the AHCA/NCAL said.

Both deaths and cases peaked in late December, a couple of weeks after the US vaccination campaign started (the first COVID-19 vaccine in the US was given on December 14, 2020). 

People over 75 were prioritized in the US vaccination campaign.

As of April 1, 23% of people over 75 and 28% of people between 65 and 74 were fully vaccinated in the US, according to CDC data. 

Twelve states are now expanding their vaccination campaigns to all people over the age of 16, and all 50 states are racing to meet President Joe Biden’s target for all adults to be eligible for the vaccine by May 1.

“We are not out of the woods yet, but these numbers are incredibly encouraging and a major morale booster” for healthcare staff, Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL, said in a statement.

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