More than 40% of Nebraska virus deaths are at nursing homes

Posted at 4:10 PM, Sep 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-20 17:10:15-04

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — More than 40% of the deaths linked to the coronavirus in Nebraska have been at nursing homes, but the overall rate of deaths in the state’s nursing homes has remained relatively low compared with national figures.

A total of 185 deaths linked to the virus have been confirmed at nursing homes in the state, which is reporting 442 deaths overall. The Omaha World-Herald reported Sunday that a federal database shows that 31 of the more than 200 nursing homes in the state have reported deaths linked to the coronavirus.

Most of the deadly outbreaks in nursing homes had not been previously disclosed because state officials have refused to name the facilities to protect residents’ privacy,

“When you are concerned about your loved one in a facility, knowing what is happening is essential,” said Todd Stubbendieck, state director for AARP Nebraska. “This transparency is important to people.”

Nationally, nursing home residents account for less than 1% of the U.S. population but more than 40% of the coronavirus deaths. The rate of deaths in Nebraska nursing homes has remained relatively low overall. Nebraska reported 18 deaths for every 1,000 nursing home residents, which is well below the national rate of 47.8 deaths per 1,000 residents.

“We know every death is a tragedy,” said Dr. Gary Anthone, Nebraska’s chief medical officer. “But one of the reasons I think we have done so well on our mortality rate is our success in managing long-term care outbreaks.”

The federal data revealed that nine nursing homes in the state had 10 or more residents die with coronavirus, accounting for 116 of the 185 nursing home deaths in Nebraska. Most of those large outbreaks were at homes in communities with large numbers of virus cases.

“The thing that we’ve learned is just how susceptible skilled nursing and assisted living facilities are to the community around them,” said Heath Boddy, CEO of the Nebraska Health Care Association.

Those large outbreaks included 20 deaths at Emerald Nursing and Rehabilitation Lakeview in Grand Island, the 16 deaths at St. Joseph Villa in Omaha, 14 at the Life Care Center of Elkhorn, 13 at Westfield Quality Care of Aurora, 12 at the Life Care Center of Omaha, 11 at Good Samaritan Society-Millard and 10 each at Omaha’s Florence Home, Golden Ours in Grant and Plainview Manor in northeast Nebraska’s Pierce County.

State health officials said 410 new cases of the virus were reported Saturday in Nebraska to give the state a total of 40,797 since the pandemic began.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Nebraska has risen over the past two weeks from 317.86 new cases per day on Sept. 5 to 363.71 new cases per day on Saturday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

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