U.S. Nursing Homes Still Don’t Have Enough PPE
Nearly nine months after the White House declared COVID-19 a public health emergency, nursing homes in the U.S. are still facing shortages of critical protective equipment such as masks and gowns. A new analysis of government data, looking at the trajectory over the summer, finds that shortages have gotten worse over time.
By late August, the report says, 226,495 nursing home residents were at risk because they lived in facilities with dangerously low supplies—less than one week’s stockpile—of one or more types of PPE. The report, from the Frontier Group and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, pulled three months of data that nursing homes began submitting to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in May.
Between May and August, nearly half of the country’s 15,000 nursing homes—which house around 1.3 million people—reported having low supplies at some point. Twenty percent of the homes reported completely running out of some kinds of PPE. Shortages worsened over the summer, even in some areas where cases were declining: In August, compared to mid-July, three times as many nursing homes said they’d run out of supplies such as masks and gowns. The shortages have likely exacerbated the challenges that nursing homes already faced, with tight quarters and vulnerable residents. More than a quarter of the Americans who have died in the pandemic so far have lived in nursing homes.