FLORIDA — AARP released new findings this week, analyzing how nursing homes across the country have been handling the pandemic. The data includes some concerning trends in Florida.

What You Need To Know

  • An AARP nursing home study found concerning trends in Florida

  • 40% of COVID-19 deaths nationwide are tied to nursing homes

  • Florida nursing home rates are worse than national average concerning resident deaths, resident cases, and staff cases

  • Data collected over a four week period

Forty percent of COVID-19 related deaths nationwide can be tied to nursing homes and in an effort to spot areas of concern state by state, AARP analyzed data compiled by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  Its findings are cause for concern in Florida.  

“It’s not an ‘A’ on our report record,” said AARP Florida Spokesperson Dave Bruns. “We are below the national average on some key indicators.”

Those include Nursing Home Resident Deaths, Nursing Home Resident Cases and Staff COVID-19 Cases. Bruns said Florida nursing home rates are worse than the national average in all three categories, especially when it comes to staff infection rates. AARP found 72 percent of Florida nursing homes are reporting staff infections, as opposed to 48 percent nationwide.

“What’s most concerning is that we rank almost at the bottom of the states for percentages of facilities that have infection among the staff,” Bruns said. “That’s how the virus is getting into these facilities.”

Which is why Bruns said AARP Florida has been calling for more rapid testing at these facilities.

Governor Ron Desantis has been touting a recent initiative to do just that with his announcement that 6.4 million additional rapid test kits are being sent to Florida by the federal government, in addition to the 150 million being sent out nationwide. 

Last week, DeSantis broke down the distribution plan for the first 400 thousand tests that arrived last week, saying 60 thousand will go to school districts, 60 thousand to state test sites, 180 to senior living communities, and 100 thousand to long-term care facilities.

“It’s been wonderful to have that resource. That is a critical element,” Bruns said. “But we need to be watching this very carefully. The virus is out there. It will exploit any weakness it can find.”

As for the other two factors AARP looked at, Florida Personal Protective Equipment and Staffing Shortages, Florida did better than the national average. The CMS data AARP analyzed was from a four week window, ending September 20th.