More Than 16,000 Early Nursing Home COVID-19 Deaths Likely Uncounted: Study

More Than 16,000 Early Nursing Home COVID-19 Deaths Likely Uncounted: Study
Stickers are seen decorating the windows of a nursing home in New York on April 17, 2020. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

A delayed start in required reporting caused as many as 16,623 deaths from the CCP virus in nursing homes to be omitted from the official count, according to a Harvard University researcher-led study.

The federal government did require nursing comes to report COVID-19 cases and deaths until May 24, 2020, more than three months after the first nursing home outbreak at the Life Care Center of Kirkland, Washington. During the first reporting period, facilities were also given the option of whether to report retrospective data.

The Life Care Center of Kirkland, for example, did not report any COVID-19 cases or deaths in its first submission to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), even though a CDC investigation a month earlier had 81 cases of and 23 deaths from the CCP virus.

The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, is the pathogen that causes COVID-19.

While it is still unknown how many nursing home facilities chose to not report retrospective CCP virus cases and deaths in the early months of the pandemic, the Harvard study arrived at an estimate by collecting case and death data from states which collected them prior to the federal government. The researchers then compared the state and federal data to estimate the likelihood of cases and deaths going unreported. The estimates were then used to come up with a cumulative number of cases and deaths across all nursing homes.

“To our knowledge, no previous study has used the available data sources in combination with the federal data to estimate national nursing home COVID-19 cases and deaths. This study aims to fill that gap,” said the study, which was led by Karen Shen at the Department of Economics at Harvard University.

The study estimates that nearly 40 percent of nursing home COVID-19 cases and deaths were omitted nationally prior to May 24, 2020. The percentage of unreported deaths was particularly high in New York, Maryland, and Florida, according to the study, which looked at death reporting samples from 19 states.

The study did not find any specific characteristics—like their region, ownership, or rating—among the facilities that did not retrospectively report CCP virus cases and deaths.

“This implies that facilities of all types omitted previous cases and deaths in the first NHSN [National Healthcare Safety Network] submission,” the study states. “This may demonstrate a widespread inability of nursing homes to reliably collect data early in the pandemic or that pressures to report fewer cases and deaths were common to all facilities.”

From The Epoch Times