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As COVID-19 Cases and Deaths Climb, New AARP Analysis Reveals Michigan Nursing Homes Still Lack Adequate PPE and Staff

Facilities must be held accountable as numbers worsen despite millions in state and federal funding

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — As COVID-19 cases in Michigan continue to climb, AARP renewed its call for state leaders to better protect nursing home residents and staff from the coronavirus.

The latest release of the AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard finds concerning trends in Michigan’s nursing homes, including rising resident and staff cases and deaths, increasing staff shortages, and shortages of Personal Protection

Equipment (PPE) that are declining, but still evident in one of every four nursing homes.

New cases and deaths in nursing homes are reflective of recent upward trends in Michigan’s general population.

Using data released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services—which is self-reported by nursing homes—the AARP Public Policy Institute, in collaboration with the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Ohio, created the AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard to provide four-week snapshots of the virus’ infiltration into nursing homes and impact on nursing home residents and staff.

This second dashboard aggregates and analyzes data from nursing homes covering three 4-week time intervals from mid-summer into fall: July 26-Aug. 23, Aug. 24-Sept. 20, and Sept. 21-Oct. 18.

For the period from Sept. 21-Oct. 18, AARP’s dashboard reports that Michigan nursing homes had:

  • 1.9 COVID-19 cases per 100 residents, up from fewer than one case per 100 residents in the previous four-week period.
  • 0.34 COVID-19 deaths per 100 residents, about three times the number from the previous four-week period.
  • 2.5 staff COVID-19 cases per 100 residents, up slightly from the previous period.
  • 25.9% of nursing homes without a 1-week supply of PPE, down from 30%
  • 36.3% of nursing homes with staffing shortages, up from slightly from the previous period.

“Thousands of Michigan nursing home residents and staff have already died of COVID-19, and still many facilities don’t have the PPE and staffing needed to protect residents,” said AARP State Director Paula D. Cunningham. “This is a tragedy that must be addressed.  Our state leaders need to act to keep residents safe and hold nursing homes accountable.”

AARP has called for the enactment of a plan to protect nursing home and long-term care facility residents:

  • Prioritize regular and ongoing testing and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for residents and staff—as well as inspectors and any visitors.
  • Improve transparency focused on daily, public reporting of cases and deaths in facilities; communication with families about discharges and transfers; and accountability for state and federal funding that goes to facilities.
  • Ensure access to in-person visitation following federal and state guidelines for safety, and require continued access to virtual visitation for all residents.
  • Ensure quality care for residents through adequate staffing, oversight, and access to in-person formal advocates, called long-term care Ombudsmen.
  • Reject immunity for long-term care facilities related to COVID-19.

These and other measures are reflected in an action plan drafted by the Michigan Nursing Homes COVID-19 Preparedness Task Force on Aug. 31. The task force was created by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Cunningham of AARP Michigan added: “COVID-19 is still spreading in the community. Continuing shortages of PPE and staff mean many facilities aren’t prepared for another wave. Nursing homes have received more than $200 million in state and federal funding intended to keep residents safe. Facilities must be held accountable and ensure our taxpayer dollars are used to save lives.”

The AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard will continue to be updated every four weeks. The complete dashboard is available at aarp.org/nursinghomedashboard.

More resources and information on COVID-19 and nursing homes can be found at aarp.org/nursinghomes.

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AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation’s largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.

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