Nursing homes across the country are warning of potential new COVID-19 outbreaks throughout facilities as new cases rise around the country. 

The number of new confirmed cases in U.S. nursing homes has started to rise again in 38 states, according to a new report by the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living. Weekly confirmed cases had been on a downturn since peaking again at 10,125 in late July, but started to creep up again in September.

There were 6,135 new confirmed cases reported in nursing homes during the week of Sept. 13, and 6,129 the following week. But federal data shows new cases in nursing homes jumped to 6,290 during the week of Sept. 27. 

The trend is similar to the middle of summer when new confirmed cases hit 5,504 during the week of June 21 and then jumped to 5,621 and 6,624 the following two weeks, respectively. 

Graphic chart showing cases of COVID-19 rising in tandem in the community and nursing homes
Trends in nursing homes COVID cases have mirrored incidence in the community. Graphic courtesy of AHCA/NCAL.

Rising tide without more funding feared

The report also noted that cases in nursing homes correlate directly to community spread. As nursing homes experienced that uptick in cases during the week of Sept. 27, John Hopkins research found that COVID-19 cases in the general U.S. population also rose by 62,139 cases per week in late September.  

“While the support we have received from Congress, the Administration and other public health agencies have helped our facilities fight this battle, we could still see another wave of COVID cases caused by the sheer volume of rising cases in communities across the U.S. given the asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread of this virus,” Mark Parkinson, AHCA/NCAL president and CEO, explained.

Data also revealed that coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes have continued to steadily decline since re-peaking in August. There were 1,060 deaths during the week of Sept. 27. There were 1,096 deaths in the previous week. 

Parkinson added that without additional funding relief from federal lawmakers the United States “will repeat the same mistakes made during the initial outbreak last spring and the major spike over the summer.”

“Without replenishing funds for federal and state agencies, healthcare facilities, including nursing homes and assisted living communities, could find themselves less than completely prepared for the challenges of the upcoming winter season, which could inevitably result in an uptick in new COVID cases,” he said.