Image of Omar Zahraoui, Image credit: NIC

Half of the U.S. skilled nursing facilities with newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in early August had staff vaccination rates 12% below the national average, according to a new report from the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care.

Although the total number of facilities reporting new cases comprised only 4.8% of U.S. facilities in the week ending Aug. 1, the pandemic is not yet over for those residing and working in these facilities, wrote analyst Omar Zahraoui in a Thursday web post. And SNF case counts are growing overall, he reported.

The early August data come from the NIC’s Skilled Nursing Covid-19 Tracker. The latest numbers reflect the effect of the delta variant on rising cases, Zahrouni noted.

Additional findings from the week ending Aug. 1 include:

  • The per-resident rate of new COVID-19 infections within SNFs rose to the equivalent of six times the rate reported on June 20 but is also well below the peak reached in December 2020.
  • The highest per-resident rate of new COVID-19 infections was seen in the South, which accounts for about 68% of newly confirmed cases in all facilities. 
  • Resident cases in the South region rose from 97 on June 20 to 1,340 Aug. 1, in part due to increasing delta variant cases in the population overall — and mainly in Texas and Florida. 
  • An uptick in confirmed cases in Florida and Texas skilled nursing facilities mirrored that of the general population.

Vaccination rates among staff growing

  • Vaccination rates among staff members have been gradually growing week-over-week. But many facilities still have low rates among both residents and staff.
  • Half of the SNFs reporting new cases the week ending Aug. 1 had a vaccination rate among staff members below 49%, compared with the 61% national average rate of staff fully vaccinated. 
  • The South region vaccination rates among staff are 54% — far below the national average of 61%.

The full report is available on the NIC’s website.