The New York State Department of Health issued a report on COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes.

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On Monday, the New York State Department of Health today released results of what officials describe as "an in-depth analysis of nursing home data" during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study found that most COVID-19 fatalities in nursing homes were related to infected nursing home staff, officials say. According to the New York State Department of Health, the findings prove staff members and visitors infected elderly residents adding an order from Gov. Andrew Cuomo requiring nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients wasn't a big factor in their deaths.

"This important data-based study confirms what we saw in our own facilities and around the state --that when the virus hit our local communities, it quickly spread through asymptomatic carriers into our nursing homes, hospitals, places of worship and other congregate settings," Michael Dowling, CEO, Northwell Health said in a press release. "This study highlighted a critically important fact that the overwhelming majority of hospital patients sent back into nursing homes were not only medically stable, they were no longer contagious, and that81 percent of the nursing homes receiving COVID patients from New York's hospitals already had the virus. This rigorous, fact-driven analysis provides critical insight as we move forward into the next phase of this pandemic and continue to look for new ways to improve health outcomes for patients."

According to the New York State Department of Health, the data found:

  • The timing of staff infections correlates with the timing of peak nursing home resident mortality across the state;
  • Nursing home employee infections were related to the most impacted regions in the state;
  • Peak nursing home admissions occurred a week after peak nursing home mortality, therefore illustrating that nursing home admissions from hospitals were not a driver of nursing home infections or fatalities;
  • Most patients admitted to nursing homes from hospitals were no longer contagious when admitted and therefore were not a source of infection; and,
  • Nursing home quality was not a factor in nursing home fatalities.
  • According to data submitted by nursing homes, in many cases under the penalty of perjury, approximately 37,500 nursing home staff members — one in four of the state's approximately 158,000 nursing home workers — were infected with COVID-19 between March and early June 2020. Of the 37,500 nursing home staff infected, nearly 7,000 of them were working in facilities in the month of March; during the same period, more than a third of the state's nursing home facilities had residents ill with the virus. Roughly 20,000 infected nursing home workers were known to be COVID-positive by the end of the month of April. These workforce infections are reflective of the larger geographic impact of the virus's presence across the state.
  • NYSDOH further analyzed the timing of the COVID-positive staff infections and the timing of nursing home deaths. Based on published data, the average length of time between COVID-19 infections to death is between 18-25 days. Therefore, the link between the timing of staff infection and nursing home mortality is supported by the fact that the peak number of nursing home staff reported COVID-19 symptoms on March 16, 2020 — 23 days prior to the date of the peak nursing home fatalities, which occurred on April 8, 2020. It is likely that thousands of employees who were infected in mid-March transmitted the virus unknowingly — through no fault of their own — while working, which then led to resident infection.

"The conclusions of the NYSDOH report of the root causes of nursing home fatalities in New York State are well supported by the data detailing nursing home staff COVID-19 illness, and epidemiological patterns, especially considering evidence of the duration of contagiousness for COVID-19 patients. We all hope to learn from these data and work with NYSDOH and nursing home partners to maximize safety for our most vulnerable citizens as this pandemic continues to evolve," David L. Reich MD, President and COO of The Mount Sinai Hospital said.

Thousands of nursing home patients in New York have died from the virus as of this writing. You can read the full report HERE.

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