New COVID-19 Cases and Deaths Among Nursing Home Residents Have Dropped Since Vaccinations Began
The final months of 2020 were the deadliest months of the pandemic for many residents and staff in long-term care facilities (LTCFs), with over 26,000 COVID-19 deaths in LTCFs reported between Thanksgiving weekend and December 31, 2020. The end of 2020 also saw the approval of the first coronavirus vaccines and the launch of vaccine administrations in LTCFs. As of March 2, 2021, at least 2 million LTCF residents have received one or more dose of the coronavirus vaccine; about 1.3 million LTCF residents have received both doses. Vaccinations have increased outside of LTCFs as well, though at a significantly lower rate.
A new KFF analysis compares trends in new COVID-19 cases and deaths among nursing home residents with trends for all others from June 7, 2020 through February 7, 2021. The findings show a substantial divergence in new cases and deaths per week between nursing home residents and the rest of the US population since December 2020.
As of February 14, 2021 (the most recent data available), weekly new deaths among nursing home residents have decreased by 83% since long-term care vaccination efforts started at the end of December, compared to a 67% increase in new deaths among all others (not nursing home residents) during the same period (Figure 1).
As the analysis explains, while the timing of vaccine initiation in LTCFs and declines in cases and deaths coincide and suggest a link between the two, these trends could also be impacted by other factors.