- New cases of COVID-19 in nursing homes have fallen steadily since US vaccine rollout, data shows.
- The US recorded 32,500 new nursing home cases in the week ended December 20.
- For the week ended January 17, the figure was 17,584. A drop of 45% in four weeks.
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The latest government data on COVID-19 cases shows that new infections have steadily dropped in nursing homes since the US began rolling out vaccines.
The US gave its first coronavirus vaccine on December 14 to critical care nurse Sandra Lindsay. That week, ended December 20, the US recorded more than 32,500 new cases in nursing homes, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data shows. That number has fallen every week since and for the week ended January 17, the most recent week for which data has been released, the US recorded 17,584 new cases.
That is a drop of more than 45% in four weeks.
The decline roughly mirrors a nationwide trend outside of nursing homes, Dr. Ashish K. Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, told The New York Times. Cases in nursing homes are driven by infections in the community, he said.
But the fact that cases in nursing homes have dropped faster, and began dropping earlier, than the rest of the country suggests the vaccine rollout is having its desired effect, Jha said.
Nursing home residents and staff have been among the first to receive their vaccinations: As of Saturday, more than 3.5 million vaccines have been given in nursing homes, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data showed, per the Times.
Nonetheless, the rollout has been slower than hoped, Jha told the Times. Once all nursing home residents are vaccinated, "then we should feel really confident that these declines will continue and we will not see a spike back up, even if we see one in the national picture," he said.
Long-term care facilities account for 5% of US COVID-19 cases but more than 35% of deaths, data compiled by the Times suggests.
On Thursday, New York Attorney General Tish James accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration of undercounting COVID-19 nursing home deaths by up to 50%.
This followed an Associated Press investigation published in May, which found the Cuomo administration ordered more than 4,300 recovering COVID-19 patients back into nursing homes.