ICYMI: Long Term Care COVID Cases Increasing Due To Community Spread

In case you missed it, the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) released a report this week that shows new COVID cases are increasing in nursing homes across the country as a result of community spread among the general population.

Data from Johns Hopkins University and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) shows that COVID cases among the general U.S. population rose by 61 percent to 391,527 cases the week of October 18. A correlating uptick in new cases in nursing homes occurred when cases in the surrounding community started rising back in mid-September.


The report also showed that COVID-related deaths in nursing homes have risen slightly. While mortality rates have decreased compared to the spring, long term care leaders are concerned that the rising number of new COVID cases in facilities will ultimately lead to an increasing number of deaths.

Experts have repeatedly pointed to community spread as a top factor in the likelihood of outbreaks in long term care facilities. Dr. David Grabowski, professor of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School stated, “The strongest predictor of whether or not we’ll see cases in [a particular setting] is community spread.”

The AHCA/NCAL report was covered by multiple outlets nationwide, including CNN, Washington Examiner, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, The Albany Herald, Philadelphia Inquirer, WXYZ (ABC - Detroit, MI), and News 12 New York, among others.

As cases continue to rise, it’s important that members of the public do their part to contain the virus. Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL said, “It is incredibly frustrating as we had made tremendous progress to reduce COVID rates in nursing homes after the spike this summer in Sun Belt states. If everybody would wear a mask and social distance to reduce the level of COVID in the community, we know we would dramatically reduce these rates in long term care facilities.”

Additionally, Congress must provide additional funding for the long term care sector. Parkinson added, “Without adequate funding and resources, the U.S. will repeat the same mistakes made during the initial outbreak last spring and the major spike over the summer. We need Congress to prioritize our vulnerable seniors and their caregivers in long term care facilities, by passing another COVID relief package during the lame duck session on Congress.

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) represents more than 14,000 non-profit and proprietary skilled nursing centers, assisted living communities, sub-acute centers and homes for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities. By delivering solutions for quality care, AHCA/NCAL aims to improve the lives of the millions of frail, elderly and individuals with disabilities who receive long term or post-acute care in our member facilities each day. For more information, please visit www.ahcancal.org or www.ncal.org.