The Delta variant caused a spike in COVID-19 cases in nursing homes over the summer leading to the highest number of deaths seen since winter 2021.
A new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that more than 19,000 infections were reported in nursing homes in August, a nearly 500 percent jump from the 3,200 seen the previous month.
What’s more, this lead to almost 1,700 virus-related fatalities, which is the highest figure reported since February.
The researchers say the analysis shows how older adults are still the group most ‘disproportionately’ affected by Covid and how important it is to make sure all residents and staff members are vaccinated to protect them from infection.
Since then, COVID-19 cases have declined across the U.S. and it is expected that data will show the same in nursing homes once full September figures are available.
A new analysis found that more than 19,000 infections were reported among nursing home residents in August, a nearly 500% jump from the 3,200 seen the previous month. Pictured: Nursing home residents wait on line to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at Harlem Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in New York, January 2021
Additionally, there were 1,759 COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes of which 1,658 were among residents, a 99% increase from the 317 deaths recorded in July and the highest number seen since February 2021 (above)
Nursing home residents, made up largely of elderly and frail Americans, were among the hardest hit by the pandemic.
It’s estimated this group represents about one percent of the U.S. population but accounts for 19.4 percent of all COVID-19 deaths with at least 136,000 fatalities thus far.
When vaccines began being rolled out in December 2020, long-term care facility residents were among the first to be inoculated.
As of Monday, an average of 84.5 percent of residents per facility are vaccinated, government data show.
Cases and deaths plummeted to record-low levels with fewer than 100 deaths being recorded per week in June 2021.
However, this changed after the Delta variant became the dominant strain in the U.S. during the late summer.
The variant, which originated in India, is highly contagious and is two times more transmissible than previous variants.
Older people, even when vaccinated, are still highly susceptible because they have weaker immune systems that may not mount a full response to the shots.
KFF’s analysis analyzed federal data and found that, in August, there were 48,778 cases in nursing homes – a 600 percent increase from July.
Of those cases, 19,150 were among residents and 29,628 were among staff members.
With boosters being rolled out and the fourth wave of the pandemic coming to an end, researchers say preliminary data from September will show declines (above)
There was also an increase in deaths with 1,759 deaths recorded, of which 1,658 were among residents.
This figure is a 99 percent increase from the 317 deaths recorded in July and the highest number since the 5,223 deaths reported in February.
‘While recent news coverage has focused heavily on the on the impact of the pandemic on children and unvaccinated adults, the pandemic continues to disproportionately impact older adults and people with disabilities,’ the researchers wrote.
‘While the vast majority of COVID-19 deaths happened outside of nursing homes in July and August, the high rate of increase within nursing homes indicates that residents and staff in these settings are at risk of death during the Delta surge, and not immune from the most recent wave.’
However, with boosters being rolled out and the fourth wave of the pandemic coming to an end, preliminary data from September may show decreases.
‘Vaccines coupled with boosters may reverse the recent trend of rising cases and deaths within nursing homes, though ongoing spread in the community continues to have an impact on residents and staff,’ the researchers added.