Nursing homes see decline in COVID-19 cases - demonstrating vaccines are working

March 5, 2021
Briana Contreras

Nursing homes see an 82% drop - the lowest amount of new COVID-19 cases since CMS started tracking in May 2020.

In more than 14,000 nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the country, the number of new COVID-19 cases have been decreasing and is at its lowest number since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) began tracking in May 2020.

According to the American Healthcare Association (AHCA) and the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL), nursing homes have seen an 82% decline in new cases among their residents since the peak during the week of Dec. 20, 2020 when there were more than 30,000 new resident cases. During that same period, community cases in the general population dropped by 46%, showcasing vaccines are having an impact in protecting the elderly population in nursing homes.

“We still have a long road ahead, but these numbers are incredibly encouraging and a major morale booster for frontline caregivers who have been working tirelessly every day for a year to protect our residents,” said Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL, in a release. “This new data showcases just how important it is for nursing homes residents and staff, as well as the general public, to get the vaccine because it is clearly working.”

The AHCA/NCAL report not only shows cases have dropped to the lowest level in nursing homes since last May, but new data also shows COVID-related deaths in nursing homes declined by 63% since December 2020.

“Though this report brings hope, we cannot let our guard down," said Parkinson. "We must continue to encourage folks to get vaccinated, especially caregivers and staff. Public health officials must also continue to ensure that long-term-care residents and staff remain the highest priority for accessing the vaccine, as the on-site clinics with CVS, Walgreens and other pharmacy partners are coming to a close."

Parkinson stressed on the importance of calling on the Administration to review its current guidance to nursing homes on restricting visitors and group activities.

“With millions of residents and caregivers now fully protected thanks to the vaccines, residents must be able to safely reengage in meaningful activities and be reunited with their loved ones,” he added.