Thousands More Nursing Home Residents Died From Covid Than Acknowledged By Government, Study Finds

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the federal government's tally of deaths in nursing homes from Covid-19 leaves out thousands of people who died before there was a clear reporting policy.

Researchers believe that Covid-19 caused the deaths of over 16,000 nursing home residents more than what the [+] federal government recognized. Getty Images

The Key Facts

A Harvard researcher and her colleagues found that the federal government count was missing 14% of deaths among nursing home residents in 2020. This means that 16,623 deaths were left out nationwide. It suggests that more than 118.300 people in nursing homes died last year from Covid-19, which accounts for about 30% of all viral-related deaths. This discrepancy in the official tally can be explained by the fact that the federal government didn't require nursing homes to report Covid-19 cases or deaths until May, three months after the initial outbreak at a Washington nursing home. The researchers explained that states were then free to report retroactively the deaths and cases from this period to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The researchers compiled a national estimate by looking at states that had reported more cases and deaths before May 2020. They then used an algorithm to calculate the numbers throughout the country.

Important Quote

According to the study's authors, this is the first time that the data sources have been combined with federal data to estimate the number of deaths and cases in the national nursing home Covid-19. This study will fill this gap.

Important Background

Nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable to the Covid-19 virus, which has caused a significant impact on their lives. Since widespread vaccination, the number of deaths and cases in these facilities has decreased dramatically. According to federal data, 83% of residents in nursing homes are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. This compares with 62% for staff.


New York is known for its problems with nursing home deaths data. This scandal led to the resignation of former Gov. Andrew Cuomos political downfall. According to a January report by the New York State Attorney Generals Office, his administration undercounted nursing home deaths up to 50%. This was due to using a narrower definition for Covid-related deaths than other states. It only included those who died in nursing homes and not those who were transferred from hospitals.

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New York Gov. Hochul Reports 12,000 Covid-19 deaths not accounted for by Cuomo (Forbes).

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