Study finds COVID-19 Death Rates Much Higher in Nursing Homes Serving Minority Residents

June 26, 2021

Residents of Connecticut nursing homes that serve the highest proportions of racial and ethnic minorities were more than 50% more likely to contract COVID-19 and more than twice as likely to die in the early weeks of the pandemic, compared to those in homes with predominantly white populations, according to a study published today in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

“The widened across-facility disparities in COVID-19 morbidity and mortality during the early pandemic period are just another manifestation of the structural inequalities in nursing home care that have existed for decades,” wrote the researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York.

Researchers analyzed weekly cases and death reports between April 13 and June 19, 2020, from 211 nursing homes in Connecticut, which was one of the few states to provide weekly counts early in the pandemic. Only four nursing homes in the state were excluded due to missing data on the racial and ethnic makeup of residents. The weekly case and death reports were analyzed for nursing home characteristics, such as number of beds, ownership, percent of Medicare residents, and staffing levels, as well as county COVID-19 case and death data. 

Disparities between nursing homes with high and low proportions of minorities increased as the pandemic progressed. In Week 1, predominantly white facilities averaged 6.1 cases and no deaths, while facilities with high proportions of minority residents reported 11.7 cases and 0.3 deaths per facility. By Week 10, those facilities with few minority residents averaged 26.7 cases and 7.6 deaths, compared to 58.5 cases and 13.3 deaths per facility with high minority populations. 

By Week 10, the COVID-19 incidence rate was 54% higher and the death rate was 117% higher in nursing homes with high proportions of minority residents compared to those with fewer minorities, with the disparities persisting even when accounting for differences in county infection rates and nursing home characteristics. 

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Author Names, Yue Li, Xueya Cai, Yunjiao Mao, Zijing Cheng, Helena Temkin-Greener. “Trend of racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 outcomes among nursing home residents.” Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology. Web (June 16, 2021).

About ICHE
Published through a partnership between the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America and Cambridge University Press, Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology provides original, peer-reviewed scientific articles for anyone involved with an infection control or epidemiology program in a hospital or healthcare facility. ICHE is ranked 41st out of 89 Infectious Disease Journals in the latest Web of Knowledge Journal Citation Reports from Thomson Reuters. 

The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) is a professional society representing more than 2,000 physicians and other healthcare professionals around the world who possess expertise and passion for healthcare epidemiology, infection prevention, and antimicrobial stewardship. The society’s work improves public health by establishing infection-prevention measures and supporting antibiotic stewardship among healthcare providers, hospitals, and health systems. This is accomplished by leading research studies, translating research into clinical practice, developing evidence-based policies, optimizing antibiotic stewardship, and advancing the field of healthcare epidemiology. SHEA and its members strive to improve patient outcomes and create a safer, healthier future for all. Visit SHEA online at shea-online.orgfacebook.com/SHEApreventingHAIs, and twitter.com/SHEA_Epi.

About Cambridge University Press 
Cambridge University Press is part of the University of Cambridge. It furthers the University’s mission by disseminating knowledge in the pursuit of education, learning, and research at the highest international levels of excellence. Its extensive peer-reviewed publishing lists comprise 45,000 titles covering academic research, professional development, over 400 research journals, school-level education, English language teaching and bible publishing. Playing a leading role in today’s international market place, Cambridge University Press has over 50 offices around the globe, and it distributes its products to nearly every country in the world. For further information about Cambridge University Press, visit Cambridge.org.

Contact: Beth Casteel | bcasteel@thereisgroup.com | 202-868-4007
Media Contact: Mark Michaud | Mark_Michaud@URMC.Rochester.edu 

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