A year ago it would have been inconceivable to imagine nursing homes without deaths from COVID-19 — but that’s nearly the reality.

Across long-term care facilities in 13 different states and Washington, D.C., there were nearly zero to no deaths reported from COVID-19 during the entire month of June, according to a report published Monday by Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit health care think-tank.

Overall, the average weekly number of COVID-19 deaths in long-term care facilities per 100,000 state residents was 0.1 in June 2021, a decline of 96% from December 2020 when average weekly deaths were 1.6 per 100,000, the report found.

This data covered state reported long-term care facility data from 42 states, plus Washington D.C.

The authors of the report attribute the decline in COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes to the Pharmacy Partnership for Long Term Care Program, a federal program that enabled some 8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to be administered to nursing home residents and staff from February through April.

“Though the partnership experienced challenges (including low rates of staff vaccination and exclusion of some [long-term care] settings), it was ultimately successful in vaccinating a high-risk population to reduce overall mortality due to COVID-19,” the authors of the report, Priya Chidambaram, a senior analyst at KFF and Rachel Garfield, vice president at KFF, wrote.


California, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Massachusetts, Montana, and Tennessee experienced a 100% average weekly decline in COVID-19 deaths in June 2021 compared to December

California, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Massachusetts, Montana, and Tennessee experienced a 100% average weekly decline in COVID-19 deaths in June 2021 compared to December.

Notably, New York and Wisconsin reported higher weekly average death rates in June 2021 than September 2020 and July 2020, respectively, when COVID-19 vaccines weren’t in use.

Still, four states (New York, Georgia, Colorado and Wisconsin) reported more weekly deaths on average from COVID-19 in June compared to prior months.

The total deaths from COVID-19 in the four states were substantially lower in June 2021 than their peak, the KFF report states.

Going forward, the delta variant poses a major threat to long-term care facilities, even where the majority of residents and staff are fully vaccinated.

“While current data show that many of the recent hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 are among unvaccinated individuals, many people in these facilities have pre-existing health conditions that could put them at high risk of illness or death if they experience a breakthrough infection, regardless of vaccination status,” they added in the report.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show a small uptick in COVID-19 deaths in long-term care facilities during July compared to June.

“Additional weeks of data are necessary to understand whether this slight uptick is due to a data anomaly or the rise of the delta variant in surrounding communities,” Chidambaram and Garfield wrote.

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