On Wednesday, the Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) praised the overall response to COVID-19 by long term care centers in the state, citing newly released federal data showing that Florida’s rate of nursing home cases and fatalities related to the pandemic – despite some public criticism – is in fact significantly better than the national average.
A new report from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) shows that Florida is well below the national average in the per-capita number of nursing home cases and deaths among both nursing homes residents and staff. Even though it is the nation’s third most populous state with one of the highest shares of at-risk older residents, Florida does not fall within the 10 highest states for total cases among nursing home residents.
“These new numbers show what an incredible job our dedicated health care workers are doing at long term care centers across Florida, despite overwhelming odds,” said FHCA Executive Director Emmett Reed on Wednesday. “There is no question that nursing home residents are at the highest risk for the challenges presented by COVID-19, and long term care centers are dealing with unprecedented challenges faced nowhere else. But it is also true that the extraordinary people who care for these vulnerable residents are doing heroic work to keep them as safe and well as possible – and succeeding far more than recognized.”
According to a state-by-state comparison of COVID-19 cases within nursing homes issued this week by CMS, based on data from the CDC National Healthcare Safety Network as of May 24:
- Florida ranked 26th in the number of nursing home resident cases per 1,000 nursing home residents – an average of 39.8 cases per 1,000 vs. the national average of 62.0.
- Florida ranked 28th in the nation – despite its large population of elders – in the number of nursing home resident deaths per 1,000 nursing home residents – an average of 17.9 vs. the national average of 27.5.
- Florida was 27th in total nursing home staff cases per 1,000 nursing home residents – an average of 27.5 vs. the national average of 39.5
- Florida was 22nd in staff deaths per 1,000 nursing home residents – an average of 0.2 vs. the national average of 0.5.
Former Gov. Mark Parkinson, D-Kansas, the president and CEO of the American Health Care Association, said the new nationwide comparison supports the need for additional resources sought by nursing homes since the beginning of the pandemic.
“Especially as we continue to expand testing for residents and staff in long term care centers in June, we should anticipate the number of cases to rise as asymptomatic residents and staff will be identified. While an increase in these reported numbers may be startling, it will improve our ability to confront this threat and protect our residents,” Parkinson said.