US nursing homes see 82% decline in COVID-19 cases after vaccines began

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Nursing homes in the United States have seen a huge drop in new COVID-19 cases this year — suggesting that coronavirus vaccines are working, a report released Tuesday said.

There was a dramatic 82 percent decline in new cases among US nursing home residents since the peak during the week of Dec. 20, according to the report by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living. That week, there were more than 33,000 new cases and on Feb. 7, just 6,077 cases were recorded.

By comparison, COVID-19 cases in the general population dropped by just 46 percent.

The report, which uses data from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, shows that COVID-19-related deaths in nursing homes also dropped by 63 percent between Dec. 20 when 5,932 deaths were logged and Feb. 7 when 2,211 fatalities were recorded

Coronavirus vaccination efforts kicked off in the US in mid-December with nursing home residents and staffers among the first prioritized.

Residents of nursing homes were among the first prioritized in the COVID-19 vaccine program that was launched in in December.Bloomberg via Getty Images

“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,” Mark Parkinson, the president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL, said in a statement.

“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 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services started tracking new COVID-19 cases in nursing homes nationwide back in May last year when more than 10,000 new cases were logged.  

That figure dropped to about 6,890 in September, but then skyrocketed throughout October, November and December before plummeting to 6,077 on Feb. 7, the data shows.

“Though this report brings hope, we cannot let our guard down. We must continue to encourage folks to get vaccinated, especially caregivers and staff,” said Parkinson.

Additionally, Parkinson said the organization is calling on the Biden 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,” said Parkinson.

COVID-19 cases in the general public have dropped 46 percent since the week of Dec. 20, 2020.Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The AHCA/NCAL represents more than 14,000 nursing homes and long term care facilities across the country that provide care to approximately five million people each year.

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