Nursing homes that utilize shared rooms and bathrooms for residents are at a higher risk of experiencing larger and more deadly COVID-19 outbreaks than facilities that house residents mostly in private rooms, a study, whose results appered in the November issue of JAMA Internal Medicine, found.

The investigation centered around more than 600 Ontario nursing homes that housed about 78,600 residents. Of those residents, 36.9% were located in single rooms, 37.3% were in double rooms and 25.8 lived in quadruple-bedded rooms. Also, 6.6% of the residents contracted COVID-19, while 1.8% died of the disease.

Researchers discovered that COVID-19 mortality rates were 2.7% in high crowding nursing homes, compared to 1.3% in low crowding nursing homes. “Our findings align with a prior systematic review demonstrating that the risk of a respiratory infection in occupants of two-bed rooms was double that of those in single-occupancy rooms. Physical barriers, such as walls separating bedrooms, predict deposition patterns of viral droplets more than absolute distances between beds in a shared room,” researchers concluded.

There also were nine reported outbreaks involving more than 100 residents in high crowding facilities, compared to just one outbreak in low crowding nursing homes, the study found.