Data collected on the coronavirus outbreak has revealed a “staggering” percentage of death at nursing homes. The data was compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation from the records of 14 states. Only 33 states in the U.S. report nursing home deaths at all, leaving the data incomplete.

Compiling data from states, counties, and individual homes, the New York Times reported that one-third of all coronavirus deaths in the country were nursing home residents or workers. Johns Hopkins University reports nearly 80,000 deaths from the virus in the U.S. so far.

It is commonly known that the novel coronavirus is much more likely to be fatal in patients 65 and older.

“I was on a phone call last week, where four or five patients came into our hospital just in one day from nursing homes,” said Dr. Sunil Parikh, an infectious disease specialist at the Yale School of Public Health. “It’s just a staggering number day-to-day.”

Parikh also explained how the lack of testing and protection equipment available at nursing homes caused the virus to spread amongst residence with little resistance. In Connecticut, where Parikh is based, homes still only test patients showing signs of infections despite the high number of coronavirus patients known to be asymptomatic.

After nursing-home cases began to crop up in the earliest days of the pandemic, the homes were closed off to the public and remained closed as the outbreak worsened. Despite these efforts, deaths of their elderly residents have escalated significantly. Around 50% of COVID-19 deaths in Massachusetts and 72% in New Hampshire came from nursing homes. In New Jersey, national guard members were deployed to long-term care facilities after 17 bodies were found piled up at a home in Andover.

“This is really decimating state after state,” Parikh said. “We have to have a very rapid shift [of focus] to the nursing homes, the veteran homes … COVID will be with us for many months.”

Only the health workers in charge of tracking potential coronavirus cases have access to the data collected Only the health workers in charge of tracking potential coronavirus cases have access to the data collected Photo: AFP / Ozan KOSE