Update: Nearly 30,000 Dead From Coronavirus in U.S. Nursing Homes
At least 28,100 residents and employees of nursing homes in the U.S. have died, roughly 35% of all COVID-19 deaths, according to the New York Times. Advocates and industry leaders say the facilities still lack many basic requirements, including access to testing and personal protective equipment.
“More needs to be done,” said Rhonda Richards, senior legislative representative at AARP. “The number of deaths is appalling. We can’t overstate the gravity of this situation.”
What’s the Problem?
Since 2016, U.S. nursing homes have been cited hundreds of times for unsafe conditions that can lead to outbreaks of the flu, pneumonia, urinary tract infections (UTIs), and skin diseases. Public watchdog groups say these repeated violations represent a failure by nursing homes to protect older, more vulnerable residents who already face an increased risk of dying from the highly contagious coronavirus.
Why Are Nursing Homes Vulnerable to COVID-19?
Long-term care facilities are essentially virus incubators because their residents are elderly, frail, and often have additional risk factors such as heart disease or type-2 diabetes, according to Wired. Additionally, many nursing home residents need help performing basic tasks like eating, dressing, or bathing, which increases the risk of contracting an infection from staff members who assist them, and vice versa. Those employees may work at several different nursing homes, and unknowingly carry it from one facility to another.
Coronavirus Outbreaks Widespread in U.S. Nursing Homes: Washington Post Report
More than 1,300 nursing homes across the U.S. have reported cases of COVID-19 during the 2019-2020 coronavirus pandemic, according to a report published by the Washington Post on April 21. Of 662 Medicare-certified facilities reporting cases of infection, approximately 40% have been cited more than once for infection control violations. At least 7 states with significant outbreaks had not released the names of facilities with cases of coronavirus, the Post report found.
COVID-19 Infection Control Violations
Nursing homes have been cited for contributing to outbreaks of coronavirus by:
- Failing to track residents with symptoms of infectious diseases;
- Not ensuring that staff members changed soiled gloves, washed their hands, or wore personal protective equipment;
- Using dirty or unsanitized equipment;
- Failing to put dates on oxygen equipment that requires regular changing;
- Storing personal urinals in bathrooms shared by multiple residents;
- Failing to screen staff members for tuberculosis and flu vaccinations;
- Allowing nursing home residents to interact during an outbreak of gastrointestinal illnesses.
Coronavirus Nursing Home Outbreaks
Major outbreaks of coronavirus have been reported in nursing homes and other assisted-living facilities in the following states:
- Life Care Center of Kirkland – 167 cases, 43 deaths
- Life Care Center of Richland – 95 cases, 9 deaths
- Careage of Whidbey – 60 cases, 8 deaths
- Sunrise View – 56 cases, 15 deaths
- Shuksan Healthcare Center – 54 cases, 11 deaths
- Regency Canyon Lakes Rehabilitation & Nursing Center – 52 cases, 11 deaths
- Rosewood Courte Memory Care – 45 cases, 4 deaths
- CRISTA Rehab & Skilled Care – 42 cases, 0 deaths
- Josephine Caring Community – 34 cases, 6 deaths
- Columbia Lutheran Home – 26 cases, 9 deaths
- Issaquah Nursing & Rehabilitation Center – 25 cases, 1 death
Source: Seattle Times
- Brier Oak on Sunset Nursing Home – 142 cases (80 patients, 62 staff)
- Country Villa South Convalescent Center – 73 cases (58 patients, 15 staff)
- Garden Crest Rehabilitation Center – 70 cases (35 patients, 35 staff)
- Redwood Springs Healthcare Center – 137 cases (91 patients, 46 staff)
Source: NBC Bay Area
*data available on fatalities only
- Cobble Hill Health Center, Inc. – 55 deaths
- Kings Harbor Multicare Center – 45 deaths
- The Plaza Rehab and Nursing Center – 35 deaths
- Bensonhurst Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare – 34 deaths
- Long Beach Nursing and Rehabilitation Center – 22 deaths
- Central Island Healthcare – 19 deaths
- Bronx Center for Rehabilitation & Health Care – 18 deaths
- Bronx Gardens Rehabilitation and Nursing Center – 17 deaths
- Dr Susan Smith Mckinney Nursing and Rehabilitation Center – 17 deaths
- St Patricks Home – 16 deaths
- Veterans Memorial Home – 155 cases, 39 deaths
- Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center – 134 cases, 39 deaths
- Lincoln Park Care Center – 116 cases, 29 deaths
- NJ Veterans Home at Menlo Park – 86 cases, 25 deaths
- Hackensack Meridian Health Nursing and Rehab- Regent Care Center – 151 cases, 25 deaths
- HudsonView Center for Rehab and Healthcare – 93 cases, 25 deaths
- Christian Health Care Center – 118 cases, 25 deaths
- Oakland Health and Rehabilitation – 98 cases, 23 deaths
Source: New Jersey Department of Health
- 16 Acres Healthcare Center Western Massachusetts – 30 cases
- Abbott House Northeastern Massachusetts – 10-30 cases
- Aberjona Nursing Center Northeastern Massachusetts – 10-30 cases
- Academy Manor Northeastern Massachusetts – <10 cases
- Advinia Care Metro Boston – 30 cases
- Adviniacare At Wilmington Metro West – 30 cases
- Advocate Healthcare Northeastern Massachusetts – 10-30 cases
- Agawam Health Care Western Massachusetts – <10 cases
- Alden Court Nursing Care & Rehab Southeastern Massachusetts – <10 cases
- Alliance Health At Baldwinville Central Massachusetts – 30 cases
Source: Boston Globe
- Saybrook Landing – 26 cases (20 residents, 6 staff)
- Otterbein Cridersville – 9 cases (4 residents, 5 staff)
- CareCore at Lima – 6 cases (3 residents, 3 staff)
- Sienna Hills Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation – 4 cases (4 residents, 0 staff)
Source: Ohio Department of Health
Pennsylvania Nursing Home Deaths Spike 550% as State Faces Class Action
Two months into the coronavirus pandemic, there have been more than 2,000 deaths from COVID-19 in Pennsylvania nursing homes, a 550% increase from this time last month, according to the York Daily Record. The spike in cases comes as nursing homes have downgraded state and federal oversight, with regulators stopping routine inspections, including in facilities that had been repeatedly cited for failure to protect patients from infectious diseases. As a result, 4 law firms have filed a federal lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Health for “denying appropriate safeguards and care to nursing home residents.”
Class Action Alleges New York Adult Home Failed to Provide Coronavirus Treatment
Residents of the Queens Adult Care Center in New York City have filed a putative Americans with Disabilities Act class action lawsuit in federal court, according to Law360. Plaintiffs allege they are at risk of developing COVID-19, and that at least 15 residents have already died because the assisted living home isn’t taking adequate precautions. The lawsuit is: Schoengood et al v. Hofgur LLC et al, case number 1:20-cv-02022, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
COVID-19 Outbreak at Maryland Nursing Home Leaves 35 Dead
At least 34 residents and 1 employee at the Sagepoint Senior Living Services in La Plata, Maryland, have died from coronavirus, more than in any other nursing home in the state, according to the Baltimore Sun. Sagepoint issued a statement saying it had complied with all state and federal guidance, and tested all of its residents for COVID-19. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has also ordered universal testing of all nursing home residents and staff throughout the state.
Virginia Nursing Home Confirms 59 Coronavirus Cases
A long-term care facility in Luray, Virginia, has confirmed at least 59 cases of coronavirus, according to the Daily News-Record. Skyview Springs Rehab and Nursing Center announced the results of facility-wide testing of residents and staff members after its first confirmed case in a resident. Jill Irby, head administrator at Skyview Springs, said that many patients were not showing symptoms, and that several staff members have also tested positive and been instructed to stay home.
“We must caution that we are very early in the course of this outbreak, and that it is not uncommon for elderly patients with COVID-19 to have mild symptoms for several days before developing much more severe disease, some of which may lead to death,” said Lord Fairfax Health Director Dr. Colin Greene. “For this reason, all involved are paying very close attention to events at the facility.”
Families Sue Georgia Senior Care Facility Over Coronavirus Outbreak
Three families have filed a lawsuit against a long-term care facility in Atlanta, Georgia, following the deaths of elderly residents from COVID-19, according to CNN. The complaints allege that the Arbor Terrace at Cascade — where at least 16 residents have died — failed to take preventative measures that could have protected against the spread of coronavirus among residents and staff at the home.
“From what we’ve seen this is the worst single outbreak at an assisted living facility, that we know of, in Georgia,” said Fulton County Commissioner Marvin Arrington.
CMS Announces New Laws on COVID-19 Reporting
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that the Trump administration would begin requiring nursing homes to report coronavirus cases to the CDC. The new guidelines also mandate that nursing homes communicate with patients and their families when one of their residents tests positive for COVID-19.
“It’s important that patients and their families have the information that they need and they need to understand what’s going on in the nursing home,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma.
However, watchdog groups have claimed that the new guidance isn’t specific enough, and that nursing homes can’t accurately report on coronavirus cases without an adequate supply of tests. Reporting gaps have continued to frustrate families of nursing home patients across the U.S.
“The failure to require early reporting in specific facilities was responsible for making the spread of the virus worse in nursing homes,” said Charlene Harrington, a sociology and nursing professor at the University of California at San Francisco.
Trump’s Opposition to ‘Obamacare’ Could Slow Coronavirus Response
The Trump administration’s disdain for “Obamacare” could be a problem for millions of uninsured Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to ABC 4. Experts say the Affordable Care Act (ACA) extends subsidized private health coverage to every U.S. state, allowing more people access to preventative medical treatment. However, the Trump administration has declined re-opening the ACA’s HealthCare.gov marketplace for uninsured people who missed the last sign-up period. State-run exchanges promote the availability of coverage, but users of HealthCare.gov have to navigate a series of clicks on the website for access to the same information.
“There is definitely a greater prioritization of coronavirus on the state exchange websites,” said Katherine Hempstead of the nonpartisan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “The state exchanges put a message about coronavirus along the top of their home page — ‘above the fold’ — while on HealthCare.gov it appears that it’s business as usual until you scroll down.”
7,300+ Coronavirus Deaths in U.S. Nursing Homes: ABC News Video
- Dec. 31, 2019 – Chinese authorities treated dozens of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause.
- Jan. 11, 2020 – China reports its first death.
- Jan. 20, 2020 – The U.S. confirms its first case of the virus in a man who recently returned from Wuhan, China.
- Jan. 23, 2020 – Wuhan is cut off by Chinese authorities.
- Jan. 30, 2020 – World Health Organization (WHO) declares a global health emergency.
- Jan. 31, 2020 – Trump Administration restricts travel from China.
- Feb. 2, 2020 – First death reported outside China.
- Feb. 5, 2020 – The Diamond Princess cruise ship is quarantined in Yokohama, Japan.
- Feb. 11, 2020 – WHO proposes official name for the disease: COVID-19, an acronym for coronavirus 2019.
- Feb. 23, 2020 – Italy sees major surge in cases and officials lock down towns.
- Feb. 28, 2020 – Infections in Europe peak.
- Feb. 29, 2020 – U.S. records its first coronavirus death and announces travel restrictions.
- March 11, 2020 – President Trump blocks most travel from continental Europe.
- March 13, 2020 – Trump declares coronavirus pandemic a national emergency.
- March 24, 2020 – Tokyo Olympics delayed until 2021.
- March 26, 2020 – U.S. leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases.
- March 27, 2020 – Trump signs coronavirus stimulus bill into law.
- April 2, 2020 – Global cases top 1 million; 10 million Americans left unemployed.
- April 10, 2020 – Global deaths surpass 101,000.
- April 14, 2020 – International Monetary Fund warns that global economy headed for its worst downturn since the Great Depression.
- April 20, 2020 – Trump announces order suspending immigration.
Source: New York Times
Family Sues Texas Nursing Home Over Worker’s Death
The family of Maurice Dotson, a nursing assistant who died from complications of coronavirus, has filed a lawsuit against the Austin nursing home where he worked, according to KXAN. The wrongful death lawsuit, filed in Travis County, alleges that Regency Integrated Health Services, which owns and operates West Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, failed to provide proper protections for workers during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Sadly, Regency put profits over the safety of its patients and staff by failing to provide personal protective equipment (“PPE”) during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the complaint states. “By failing to provide masks and other PPE, Regency unnecessarily exposed its patients and staff to unreasonable risks of serious harm causing Mr. Dotson’s untimely death.”
Dotson became ill and sought medical attention at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center on April 3, 2020. He was discharged within days, but his health declined and he was readmitted on April 8, according to the lawsuit. Dotson died of COVID-19 pneumonia on April 17, without any friends or family allowed at his bedside due to visitor restrictions at the hospital.
Florida Nursing Home Sends Dozens to Hospital
At least 35 residents of Highlands Lake Center in Lakeland, Florida, have been transferred to a local hospital after testing positive for coronavirus or showing symptoms, according to The Ledger. Lakeland Regional Health President and CEO Elaine C. Thompson said hospital and nursing home staff discussed the move for days before deciding to have the residents transferred.
“After ongoing communications with the leadership of Opis Highlands Lake Center throughout the last week, it became apparent to us and to their administrators that immediate hospital-level intervention was necessary for these residents,” Thompson said. “This will allow Highlands Lake Center to focus on the safety and well-being of the other residents in their care and hopefully will slow the COVID-19 outbreak at this facility.”
Highlands Lake Center is 1 of 5 long-term care facilities in Polk County, Florida, that has had a resident or a staff member test positive for COVID-19, according to the Florida Department of Health.
- Tiredness (malaise)
- Dry cough
Some people may experience:
- Aches and pains
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
Source: World Health Organization (WHO)
Strategies to Manage COVID-19 Outbreaks in Long-Term Care Facilities
Given the high risk of spread once coronavirus enters a nursing home, these facilities must act immediately to protect residents and staff. Strategies include:
- Keep COVID-19 from entering the facility
- Identify infections early
- Prevent spread of COVID-19
- Assess supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and initiate measures to optimize current supply
- Identify and manage severe illness
To prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Clean your hands often. Use soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Maintain a safe distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Cover your nose and mouth with your bent elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Stay home if you feel unwell.
- If you have a fever, a cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention. Call in advance.
- Follow the directions of your local health authority.
Source: World Health Organization
Do I Have a Nursing Home Coronavirus Class Action Lawsuit?
The Workplace and Environmental Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in Nursing Home Coronavirus Class Action Lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new injury and death cases in all 50 states.
If you or a loved one was exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19) in a nursing home or other assisted-living facility, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.