Oops, nursing home COVID-19 deaths omitted
Dashboard quickly fixed, fatalities continue to mount
IN CREATING A NEW DASHBOARD for the state’s war on COVID-19, key information on one of the so-far losing battles was inadvertently dropped on Monday.
Deaths at long-term care facilities, which have skyrocketed in Massachusetts, were not included in the inaugural edition of the dashboard Monday night. Officials said that data failed to transfer from one database to another, and was mistakenly omitted.
The dashboard released late Tuesday afternoon included the information, which indicated nursing home deaths from COVID-19 increased by 123 to 1,059, a gain of 13 percent from Monday. Nursing home deaths now account for 54 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in the state. The deaths at hospitals and other locations increased 3 percent to 902.
The new dashboard also provides the number of COVID-19 cases at 220 facilities within three ranges – 0 to 10 cases, 10 to 30 cases, and over 30 cases. In the Tuesday dashboard, 70 of the facilities had less than 10 cases, 67 had between 10 and 30 cases, and 83 had more than 30 cases. The dashboard doesn’t list the specific number of cases or deaths at individual facilities, even though the state has that information.
Many in town suspect many of the cases and deaths are originating at the three long-term care facilities. The state dashboard says Buckley Health Care has more than 30 COVID-19 cases and Poet’s Seat and Charlene Manor each have between 10 and 30. Buckley reported 18 cases on its website on April 15, Charlene Manor reported 17 on April 17, and Poet’s Seat had no information at all on COVID-19 on its website. None of the facilities have reported any deaths.The House passed legislation on Tuesday requiring long-term care facilities to report on a daily basis COVID-19 cases and deaths to the Department of Public Health, to the families and guardians of residents, and to the House and Senate Ways and Means Committees. The legislation, which now goes to the Senate, also requires the Department of Public Health to publish the information, broken down by each individual nursing home, daily on its website.
In a statement, House Speaker Robert DeLeo said the bill is necessary to obtain data “which have been difficult to obtain since the outbreak began.” Rep. Ruth Balser of Newton, the sponsor of the legislation, called long-term care facilities the epicenter of the public health crisis. “It is our hope that with transparent reporting, the necessary testing, personal protective equipment, and staff support will be made available to these facilities,” she said.