The COVID-19 pandemic has rocked just about everyone in every corner of the United States. Perhaps nowhere has the virus been felt more than in our nation’s nursing homes. While nursing homes contain less than one-half of 1 percent of the U.S. population, they’ve produced 2 percent of the nation’s COVID-19 cases and 25 percent of deaths. In addition, there have been 425,357 cases reported among nursing home staff nationwide as of mid-January, resulting in 1,292 deaths.
At any given time, about 1.3 million people with long-term medical issues or short-term rehabilitation needs are residing in the nation’s 15,000 nursing homes. And too many of them are at risk, according to ongoing research by U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group, which have been analyzing government data.
The problems facing nursing homes include dangerous shortages of masks, gowns and other personal protective equipment, and crushing shortages of nurses, aides and other direct-care staff. We explore the causes, the consequences and the solutions.