Nursing homes that are larger and have more black residents are at an increased chance of having a COVID-19 case, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

David Grabowski, Ph.D.

A research team, led by Harvard expert David Grabowski, Ph.D., analyzed 9.395 nursing homes for the study. Of those facilities, more than 31% had a positive coronavirus case. 

Investigators found that urban location, state, and non-chain status were also linked to increased probability of having a COVID-19 case. Five-Star rating, prior infection violations, ownership and Medicaid dependency, however, were not significantly related to having a positive case in a facility. 

A University of Chicago research team came to similar conclusions in an earlier study. R. Tamara Konetzka, Ph.D., a health economics and health services research professor, told the Senate’s Special Committee on Aging that findings revealed there’s a “strong and consistent relationship” between race and the disease.

She added that nursing homes are often reflections of their local communities, and data show that facilities in areas that have underserved, non-white populations are having the worst outcomes. 

“Nursing homes with the lowest percent of white residents were more than twice as likely to have cases or deaths as those with the highest percent of white residents,” Konetzka explained.