Beth Burnham Mace

U.S. nursing homes are one of the “safest places to be” for seniors, with new data revealing COVID-19 cases at skilled nursing facilities have declined 98% since December and have accounted for just 0.3% of all U.S. cases since mid-May. 

That’s according to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care, which, in a blog posted Tuesday, detailed the progress made at nursing homes since vaccinations at facilities began in late December.

New nursing home fatalities accounted for about 74% of all COVID-related deaths among U.S. seniors during December, according to federal data. That figure has since dropped to 28% as of April, according to the organization. 

“The drop in nursing home cases has outstripped the drop in case counts amongst surrounding populations, which in some areas were on the rise, even as vaccines become more readily available,” wrote Beth Burnham Mace, NIC’s chief economist and director of outreach, and data analyst Omar Zahraoui.  

“Currently, more fatalities are occurring in the general population of older adults over 85 years of age than in those living in nursing homes,” they added. 

Data also revealed that overall cases among residents dropped to their lowest point in the pandemic when just six residents in 10,000 tested positive for COVID-19 during the week ending May 16. That’s compared to more than 300 residents per 10,000 testing positive during the week of Dec. 20. 

Mace and Zahraoui said the findings “reflect the magnitude of the impact of the U.S. vaccination program on nursing home residents.” 

“The data clearly tracks with the nationwide effort to prioritize nursing home residents for vaccinations. Case counts began to steeply decline as the Pfizer, and then the Moderna vaccines began to be distributed to nursing homes across the country on December 20, 2020. Nursing home case counts remain low, particularly when compared to infection rates among the general population, which have roared back in recent weeks,” the two wrote.