God’s waiting room, as Gov. Ron DeSantis awkwardly called Florida, borrowing an old joke, is doing far better than most states in protecting nursing home residents from the coronavirus crisis, a federal report and a state association declared.
A new report from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services shows that Florida is well below the national average in the per-capita number of nursing home cases and deaths among both nursing homes residents and staff.
Even though it is the nation’s third most populous state with one of the highest shares of at-risk older residents, Florida does not fall within the 10 highest states for total cases among nursing home residents.
The report says Florida has seen 39.8 COVID-19 cases per thousand nursing home residents and 17.9 COVID-19 related deaths per 1,000 residents That is well below the national averages of 62 cases and 27.5 deaths per 1,000 nursing home residents, and way below the worst rates seen in other states.
Some states saw more than 200 cases per 1,000 residents, and two saw more than 100 deaths per 1,000 residents. In Massachusetts, 244 of every 1,000 nursing home residents – almost a quarter — contracted COVID-19. In New Jersey, 145 per 1,000 nursing home residents died of COVID-19.
The report led the Florida Health Care Association, the state’s biggest lobbying group for nursing homes, to laud Florida’s overall response to the COVID-19 crisis in long-term care centers.
“These new numbers show what an incredible job our dedicated health care workers are doing at long term care centers across Florida, despite overwhelming odds,” FHCA Executive Director Emmett Reed declared in a news release. “There is no question that nursing home residents are at the highest risk for the challenges presented by COVID-19, and long term care centers are dealing with unprecedented challenges faced nowhere else. But it is also true that the extraordinary people who care for these vulnerable residents are doing heroic work to keep them as safe and well as possible — and succeeding far more than recognized.”
The report ranked Florida 26th in the number of cases per 1,000 nursing home residents, and 28th in the nation in the number of deaths per 1,000.
Florida also did better than most states in protecting nursing home staff from infections, according to the report.