Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, January 21, 2021

So Many Have Died: COVID-19 in America's Nursing Homes

COVIDAs of late September 2020, 77,000 residents and staff of long-term care facilities have died of COVID-19 with adults 65 and older accounting for 79 percent of COVID-19 deaths in the United States. This number is exceptionally troublesome given the fact that the age group only accounts for 15.2 percent of the population.  

Why so many deaths? 

Well, the residents in nursing homes are much older and more fragile, leaving their immune systems more susceptible. Further, "the top three underlying conditions for those hospitalized with COVID-19 (heart disease, chronic lung disease, and diabetes) rise with age, posing a greater risk to those is nursing homes and similar facilities.

The high infection rate results from a combination of factors which are shown below:

  • Problems with high infection control in nursing homes, a long-time issue that the pandemic has exacerbated.  
  • Chronic lack of personal protection equipment (PPE) 
  • Failure to separate COVID-19 cases from non-covid residents 
  • Nursing home designs that make it easy for infections to spread
  • Staffing shortages made worse by the pandemic, and
  • Inadequate testing 

From a practical standpoint, in order to control the increasing death rate and lower the COVID-19 cases in nursing homes, these issues will need to be addressed.

See David English, So Many Have Died: COVID-19 in America's Nursing Homes , ABA: Probate & Property, Jan/Feb 2021. 


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