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The latest release of AARP’s Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard depicts a worsening crisis from coast to coast, including Rhode Island. In the four-week period ending December 20, the rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths in nursing homes have roughly quadrupled. From November 23 to December 20, Rhode Island nursing homes had:

  • 15.7 COVID-19 cases per 100 residents, up from 4.3 in the previous four-week period
  • 2.60 COVID-19 deaths per 100 residents, from .48
  • 12.5 staff COVID-19 cases per 100 residents, up from 4.3
  • 20.3% of nursing homes without a 1-week supply of PPE, up from 19.7%
  • 41.9% of nursing homes with staffing shortages, down from 32.4%

“Almost a year into the pandemic, nursing home residents and staff remain trapped in a petri dish, nearly defenseless against coronavirus,” said AARP State Director Kathleen Connell. “While vaccines will not make nursing home residents safe overnight, this dashboard underscores the urgency of vaccinating residents and staff as quickly as possible. Also, given that nearly every nursing home reported staff infections and resident cases, it is alarming that so many facilities still do not have adequate PPE.”

Connell added, “The continuing coronavirus crisis in nursing homes also spotlights the life-and-death need for fundamental reforms, now.” AARP continues to urge elected officials to act immediately, focusing this year on:

·       Enacting or making permanent the components of AARP’s five-point plan:

o   Improving transparency focused on daily, public reporting of cases and deaths in facilities; communication with families about discharges and transfers; and accountability for state and federal funding that goes to facilities.

o   Rejecting immunity for long-term care facilities related to COVID-19.

o   Prioritizing regular and ongoing testing and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for residents and staff—as well as inspectors and any visitors.

o   Ensuring access to in-person visitation following federal and state guidelines for safety, and require continued access to virtual visitation for all residents.

o   Ensuring quality care for residents through adequate staffing, oversight, and access to in-person formal advocates, called long-term care Ombudsmen.

The AARP COVID-19 Nursing Home Dashboard analyzes federally reported data in four-week periods going back to June 1, 2020. Earlier this year, AARP fought for public reporting of nursing home COVID-19 cases and deaths. Using this data, the AARP Public Policy Institute, in collaboration with the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Ohio, created the dashboard to provide snapshots of the virus’ infiltration into nursing homes and impact on nursing home residents and staff, with the goal of identifying specific areas of concern at the national and state levels in a timely manner.

The full COVID-19 Nursing Home Dashboard is available at www.aarp.org/nursinghomedashboard. For more information on how COVID is impacting nursing homes and AARP’s advocacy on this issue, visit www.aarp.org/nursinghomes.

AARP Rhode Island’s “COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan in Rhode Island is available at https://states.aarp.org/rhode-island/covid-19-vaccine-distribution

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Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp.

He currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals.

He is a member of Local Independent Online News Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.