An estimated 44% of COVID-19 cases and 40% of COVID-19 deaths that occurred in nursing homes before May 24, 2020 were not reported to the federal government, according to new research.
The Trump administration did not start requiring nursing homes to report COVID-19 cases and deaths until May 24, 2020, and facilities could choose whether to report retroactive data. The gap in national reporting has made it difficult to determine national COVID-19 case and death counts.
"The start of federal reporting was relatively late into the pandemic," said Karen Shen, an author in the study released Thursday in JAMA Network Open. "Because of that, it's been hard to actually have a reasonable estimate for the toll of COVID-19 on nursing homes for the entire pandemic."
Using data submitted to the National Healthcare Safety Network and information submitted to state departments of health, researchers estimated that 68,613 COVID-19 cases and 16,623 COVID-19 deaths that occurred before May 24, 2020 have not been reported nationally. Those cases and deaths represent 12% and 14% of total nursing home cases and deaths, respectively, the study found.