Vermont Business Magazine A state-by-state review of COVID-19 testing positivity rates in the general population and data from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages for nursing homes shows that Vermont has the lowest positivity rate in the nation but does not have as much available PPE in nursing homes as several states. The chief concern is in those state where there is high-positivity and low PPE.
Using data from Johns Hopkins University, the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) compiled a state-by-state breakdown of the positive COVID-19 test rate and number of nursing homes in those states. The second page includes data, released July 30, 2020 by CMS, from required federal reporting by nursing homes across the country on current supply of PPE (N95 Masks, Surgical Masks, Gowns). Here is a pdf version of the data.
Since July 26, there are 33 states with a positive test rate of over five percent, underscoring the urgent need for increased testing and PPE to keep the virus from spreading. From the CMS data on current PPE supplies in nursing homes, you will see that many states still have a significant percentage of facilities without vital PPE, including N95 masks, surgical masks, and gowns.
On July 22, 2020, the CMS announced that, “[they] will begin requiring, rather than recommending, that all nursing homes in states with a 5% positivity rate or greater test all nursing home staff each week.” If implemented today, 11,640 nursing homes would be required to conduct such weekly testing.
AHCA/NCAL, which represents more than 14,000 nursing homes and assisted living facilities, sent a letter two weeks ago to the National Governors Association (NGA) warning states of imminent outbreaks at nursing homes and assisted living facilities given the major spikes in new cases in several states across the U.S., combined with serious PPE shortages and significant delays (up to five days or more) in getting testing results for long term care residents and caregivers.
Mark Parkinson, President and CEO, American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) said on COVID-19 testing positivity rates: “Governors and state health agencies, especially in these 34 states, need to take immediate action to protect our seniors and health care heroes by ensuring long term facilities have adequate supplies of PPE (including N95 masks) and staff support as well as facilitating expedited test results for our residents and caregivers. We also need members of the public to do their part to help reduce spread by wearing a mask in public and continuing to practice social distancing. We all have a duty to defend our nation’s greatest generation and their essential caregivers.”
On the PPE supplyshortages he said: “The continued shortage of vital PPE supplies for nursing homes across the US is a major concern especially for states with recent spikes in new COVID cases.”