Nursing home deaths, cases higher than state originally reported

New numbers show more people have gotten sick at long term care facilities
Posted at 5:00 PM, Jul 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-22 19:10:20-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The number of people who’ve contracted COVID-19 and the number of people who have died of the virus at Indiana long-term care facilities is higher than originally reported by the Indiana State Department of Health, according to new numbers released Wednesday by state leaders.

At least 1,390 residents have died at Indiana long term care facilities since March 1, making up 53% of the state’s total deaths—that’s 128 more deaths than listed on the state’s coronavirus dashboard.

On July 1, the state agreed to release nursing home deaths and cases, broken down by facility, after pressure from Call 6 Investigates, the AARP Indiana, and other advocates.

As a result, the state required nursing homes to submit their data, dating back to March 1, showing the number of cases and deaths for both residents and employees.

So far, 83% of the state’s long-term care facilities have submitted their data to the state by the July 14 deadline.

“This is not to say they have never submitted data to the state,” said Dr. Dan Rusyniak, Chief Medical Officer for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration. “Rather, this means they have not yet submitted this historical data in the new data format that we require for our dashboard.”

New numbers released Wednesday also revealed 5,867 nursing home residents have tested positive for COVID-19, or 11% of the state’s total—which is 34 more cases than the state reported on its dashboard.

The state plans remove the long-term care aggregate totals from the dashboard, calling the new numbers “more comprehensive” than what is currently posted.

“The reason these numbers are different is because facilities have gotten better at reporting,” Rusyniak said. “We’ve gotten better at collecting the data. We’ve also made it easier for facilities by providing better instructions and giving them more time to go back and identify cases.”

Rusyniak said the state has also made improvements to its data submission portal and enhanced the state’s in-house data teams.

He said people should keep in mind that if a nursing home has cases doesn’t mean they’ve had an outbreak.

“Every resident case does not necessarily correlate with an outbreak in that facility,” Rusyniak said. “Many facilities admit patients from a hospital because they had COVID and now require a nursing home.”

The State of Indiana also revealed Wednesday of all nursing home staff tested statewide, they found 2,521 positive workers and 12 deaths since March 1.

PREVIOUS | Nursing home shares concerns after quitting, testing positive for virus

“Because there are so few staff deaths, to protect their privacy we will not list totals for each facility and because staff may work at multiple facilities,” Rusyniak said. “It is possible a case may have been reported involving a staff member from more than one nursing home.”

The state plans to publish the nursing home historical data every Monday until the new nursing home dashboard is publicly available, which is expected in the next three weeks.

It will allow you to search by a nursing home or on a map, and in the future may include features like demographics and recoveries.

Rusyniak said any nursing homes that have not reported its data could face penalties.

“We are pushing for 100% of facilities to submit their data before the release of the public dashboard, and will continue to work with them to do so,” Rusyniak said.

PREVIOUS | Governor, ISDH reject lawmakers' request to release COVID-19 data by facility | Indiana senators call on Governor to release nursing home data to the public | Families and advocates in disbelief at state’s claim it doesn’t have nursing home records