Why Are Our Parents and Grandparents in Nursing Homes Being Ignored?

By Don Rosenberg 5/14/2020

Various news sources have reported that nursing homes and assisted living facilities account for 35-45% of all COVID-19 deaths in the United States. The New York Times reported a 35% figure, but admitted that their data was incomplete with some states not sharing their information for nursing home deaths. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/05/09/us/coronavirus-cases-nursing-homes-us.html

The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity reported a figure of 40%…

40 percent of U.S. COVID-19 deaths have occurred in nursing homes and assisted living facilities… The share of deaths occurring in nursing homes and assisted living facilities is highest in Minnesota, at 84 percent, using the latest data as of May 11, 2020. (Source: G. Girvan / FREOPP; Graphic: A. Roy / FREOPP)

Twenty states report nursing home deaths account for 50% to 80% of all cases.

When I added the data from FREOPP to the missing data from the New York Times, the total is 45%, which accounts for at least 38,000 of the 84,000 deaths reported so far.

This means that we have been focusing our efforts on shutting down our economy and putting our citizens under house arrest, when we really should have concentrated on the 1.5 million residents and workers in nursing homes, assisted living, veterans care, and other long term care facilities.

On April 30 The Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes was announced to look into the problem, but its first meeting isn’t until the end of May. See Article 

LeadingAge represents non-profit senior living and care providers and had a very critical response, calling government actions so far “wholly insufficient” and noting that long-term care facilities were left out of the CARES Act health care legislation.

“The president claimed that ‘We’re taking very special care of our nursing homes and our seniors.’ This is false. The time for talk, symbolism, and proclamations has passed,” LeadingAge CEO Katie Smith Sloan said in a statement. “It’s time for action from the White House and Congress.”

How can we get an experimental drug approved by the FDA in less than 24 hours, and thousands of ventilators produced in a few weeks, and not be able to protect our elderly after knowing from the very first week that they were most vulnerable?

In order to “safeguard our citizens” we have shut down our entire economy, leading to at least 100,000 permanent business closings and over 20 million Americans losing their jobs. The 14.7% unemployment rate is vastly under-reported because the stimulus program has kept millions of idle workers listed as still employed.

Our hospitals have been crippled. In order to pave the way for the 1.2 million projected critical cases of coronavirus, our hospitals have been shut down from all elective surgery and regular medical procedures. There is no telling how many Americans will die as a result of cancer screenings or other important procedures that have been delayed.

The remaining 46,000 non nursing home COVID-19 deaths represent .014% of the U.S. population. Not 1.4%, but .014%. And the vast majority of those 46,000 deaths were people with pre-existing conditions.

Compare that with 38,000 deaths among 1.5 million assisted living residents – that’s 2.5%, not .014%.


We must demand immediate assistance to our vulnerable elderly in nursing homes, including appropriate personal protective equipment and regular testing for nursing home residents and staff. If you take the cost of lost jobs, lost wages, lost tax revenue and all the stimulus/bailout money that has been doled out, 5% of that would be more than enough for a crash program to protect our seniors and those with pre-existing conditions.

We must reopen our businesses immediately, taking reasonable precautions, but stop crippling our economy and put millions of Americans back to work.

We must focus the rest of our efforts on protecting those vulnerable from the virus because of pre-existing conditions. We need to offer free testing, enhanced health care, protective equipment.

We must reopen our hospitals and leave a small percent in reserve to handle Covid-19 cases.

We must reopen our schools. Children are missing their education and underprivileged children are losing out on nutrition services. Special attention needs to be paid to children at school with elderly living at home.


We have put our focus of dealing with this pandemic in the wrong place. It’s time to protect our seniors and reopen our country.




AARP has a page that updates nursing home deaths on a state by state basis. https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/health/info-2020/coronavirus-nursing-home-cases-deaths.html

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