16K coronavirus nursing home deaths missing from official count

Government counts of the devastation from coronavirus among the most vulnerable elderly likely missed more than 16,000 COVID-19 deaths in U.S. nursing homes during the early months of the pandemic, an academic study published today has found. 

The missing deaths add up to 14 percent of what researchers estimate to be the true death toll in nursing homes for all of last year, according to the analysis in JAMA Network Open, a peer-reviewed publication of the American Medical Association. 

Researchers also estimated that 68,000 additional coronavirus cases – representing nearly 12% of last year’s total nursing home cases – were omitted before a federal reporting requirement took effect in late May 2020. 

Researchers compared federal counts with the numbers captured by 20 states that separately tracked nursing homes outbreaks and deaths. Four in 10 deaths went unreported prior to the requirement, the review determined. 

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