These 173 Idaho nursing homes and care facilities have had COVID-19 outbreaks
Audrey Dutton, Idaho Statesman
Published at | Updated at
BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — Almost 2,200 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Idaho’s nursing homes, assisted living facilities and group homes since the pandemic reached Idaho in March, according to Idaho long term care and federal nursing home records.
Idaho has just over 400 long-term care facilities. Of those, 173 have reported at least one case of suspected or lab-confirmed COVID-19, the records show. Most of the outbreaks — 112 of them — have settled down or stopped entirely, with no new suspected or confirmed cases among residents or staff. The other 61 outbreaks are growing.
Dozens of facilities have managed to halt the coronavirus before it could infect more than one resident or staff member, records show. Others have reported large outbreaks, with 50 or more people infected. COVID-19 has taken the lives of at least 212 people in Idaho’s long term care facilities.
Several nursing homes told the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in mid-August that they lack adequate protective equipment to keep their staff and patients safe. Six nursing homes said they had no adequate supply of N95 masks, and at least one nursing home had no supply of hand sanitizer.
Many long-term care facilities are dealing with shortages of nursing staff, aides and other employees.
More than half the people with COVID-19 in Idaho’s nursing homes are the staff, according to CDC records.
Several nursing homes notified the CDC in August that they couldn’t test their residents and staff for the coronavirus as often as necessary, citing a lack of supplies and lab capacity. Some told the CDC that it took more than a week to get test results.
Families have reported trouble getting information about outbreaks and coronavirus testing in their loved ones’ facilities. To help provide more transparency, the Idaho Statesman has created a searchable online database and map, using state and federal records.
There are likely to be some inaccuracies in the data. These may be due to reporting delays, data entry errors, clerical errors or faulty reporting.
The state records are based on information reported to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare by local health districts. The federal records are based on information reported to the CDC by nursing homes.
The CDC record is more than a week behind the state record, so its data may be significantly delayed. In some cases, the CDC data may overstate the number of cases in a facility. For example, one nursing home’s CDC record showed three infected residents for every one person who actually lived there. The Statesman has redacted CDC numbers that are likely to be inaccurate in the database.
On the other hand, some outbreaks that nursing homes reported to the CDC do not show up in state records, or they show up much later. A handful of nursing homes were reporting cases to the CDC for months before the state’s records showed any cases there.
While the CDC data includes all confirmed and suspected cases of COVID-19, the state only includes an outbreak when a facility has at least one case confirmed by a lab test.
The numbers in the Statesman database include confirmed and probable/suspected cases — residents or staff who have symptoms and a known exposure to the coronavirus but didn’t test positive or weren’t tested at all.
The state recently completed 115 inspections at nursing homes, looking specifically at COVID-19 infection control. They found 49 nursing homes had no deficiencies in their practices, 66 with at least one deficiency and nine nursing homes with deficiencies that put their residents in immediate danger.
The most common problems inspectors found included failing to properly isolate or separate patients with COVID-19, improper hand hygiene or use of PPE, screening people who entered the facility and not having dedicated staff for residents with COVID-19, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.
See an error in the database? Email reporter Audrey Dutton at email@example.com. Have a story for us to investigate? Follow the instructions at idahostatesman.com/news/investigative-tips to communicate with our investigative team as safely and securely as possible.