A new AARP report shows a grim assessment of Florida’s nursing homes. The COVID-19 Nursing Home Dashboard Report found resident deaths spiked 22% over a four-week period, and staffing shortages continue to mount.
With 289 resident deaths reported during the four-week period ending Sept. 19, Florida ranked first in the nation in the number of nursing home residents who died from COVID-19 during that time span. Florida’s total represents 14% of the 2,131 COVID-19 nursing home deaths nationwide during that four-week period.
“Tragically, these reported data continue to show an increase of new deaths caused by COVID-19 in Florida’s nursing homes. With more than 11,000 lives lost in Florida’s long-term care system since the start of the pandemic, we can only hope that the recent decreases in new cases and hospitalizations could mean that the darkest days of this global public health crisis are behind us,” AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson said in a prepared release.
More than 3.6 million Floridians have been infected and more than 57,000 people overall have died in the state because of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. But the state saw a significant surge in fatalities over the summer even after vaccinations had begun. Florida’s overall death toll jumped 41% from the end of July to mid-October.
On a somewhat brighter note, the new AARP report shows the vaccination rate for nursing home staff is 53%. While a 4% increase from the previous month’s report, the vaccination rate among Florida nursing home staff still is below the industry standard of 75%, and below the national average of 67%.
Of the 700 nursing homes in the state, 12%, or 85, have met the goal to have 75% of the staff vaccinated.
The report shows 88% of nursing home staff in California are vaccinated, 74% of New York nursing home staff are vaccinated, and 63% of Texas nursing home staff are vaccinated.
The report shows that 25% of the state’s nursing homes reported staffing shortages during the time frame under review, up from 22% in the previous month’s report.
The AARP report is based on data nursing homes report to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that is reviewed by the AARP Public Policy Institute and Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Ohio.