Coronavirus infections are again rising in New York’s nursing homes, a sign that blanket testing, tight limits on visitors and other precautions have not fully isolated their acutely vulnerable residents from conditions in the outside world.

Nursing homes reported 308 new cases among residents during the week ending Oct. 25, up from a low of 79 for the week ending Sept. 6, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (see first chart). There were 21 COVID-19 weekly deaths reported on Oct. 25, up from a low of 4 on Sept. 27.

Source: CDC

The facilities also reported 298 cases among staff on Oct. 25, up from a low of 198 for the week ending Sept. 13.

The average infection rate in New York facilities, at 49 daily cases per 100,000 residents, is also far lower than the national rate of 172 per 100,000 (see second chart).

Source: CDC

But the caseload in New York homes is rising fast, jumping 254 percent since Sept. 13, compared to 37 percent nationwide.

That said, the latest nursing home numbers are a fraction of what they were in the spring, when tens of thousands of residents got sick and thousands died. (The full impact is unknown because the Health Department’s reports have omitted residents who were transferred to hospitals before passing away. The Empire Center has sued under the Freedom of Information Law to obtain the missing data.)

Another contrast to earlier this year is the regional pattern. Currently, infection rates are highest in the Southern Tier, Western New York and the Mohawk Valley (see third chart). In the spring, the pandemic was overwhelmingly concentrated in New York City and its neighboring suburban counties.

Source: CDC

The trends roughly parallel a rise in the statewide infection rate, which has gone from fewer than 600 cases per day in late August to more than 4,800 on Tuesday. The increase led Governor Cuomo to announce new restrictions on Wednesday, including a ban on in-home gatherings of more than 10 guests and a 10 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants.

The Cuomo administration has not recently discussed the rising rate in nursing homes or what it might do in response. The state already requires weekly testing of all residents and staff and bars outside visitors from homes that have recorded even a single infection in the previous 14 days.

 

About the Author

Bill Hammond

As the Empire Center’s senior fellow for health policy, Bill Hammond tracks fast-moving developments in New York’s massive health care industry, with a focus on how decisions made in Albany and Washington affect the well-being of patients, providers, taxpayers and the state’s economy.

Read more by Bill Hammond

You may also like

The AG’s Nursing Home Lawsuit Scratches the Surface of Widespread Issues

The attorney general's just-filed lawsuit against the Villages of Orleans nursing home has implications that reach far beyond a single facility in western New York. In addition to c Read More

A SUNY Pandemic Study Is Marred by Errors and Inconsistencies

A pandemic-related study recently published by the state University at Albany's School of Public Health is marred by factual errors, inconsistencies and methodological issues that raise doubts about its findings – and questions about the process by which it was reviewed. Read More

Hochul’s Pandemic Study Is Off to an Underwhelming Start

Although Governor Hochul's long-promised review of New York's COVID response hasn't formally started yet, it has already exposed important information about the state's pandemic preparedness – much of which is unflattering. Read More

Nation’s Report Card Paints Bleak Picture for New York

Results are in for the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the nation’s report card. They paint a bleak picture for New York. Read More

The state puts a pricey condition on its approval of a heart transplant center

In a provocative flex of executive power, the state Health Department is requiring a hospital system to spend $50 million on health care in Brooklyn and Queens if it wants to open an $8.4 million heart transplant center in Manhattan. Read More

The Essential Plan’s accumulated surplus balloons to $8 billion, with no fix in sight

The state's Essential Plan has generated billions in surpluses as the program automatically drew pandemic relief money that it did not need Read More

Labor Day snapshot: payroll employment in New York still a tale of two states

Over the past three years, the Empire State's recovery has been steady but slow, moving payrolls back to within three percentage points of the 2019 pre-pandemic level Read More

NY pandemic recovery update: climbing, but still far behind

Private employment in New York State remained more than 300,000 jobs short of the pre-pandemic level Read More

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!