Risk v. Normalcy

What is the risk of Covid among nursing home residents now? Well, it depends. Some facilities never had a problem with the coronavirus because they were well-trained, well-stocked, and safe staffed. However, the vast majority were unprepared and unsafe.

After analyzing data collected about COVID cases among Medicare recipients (“beneficiaries”) between March 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, CMS concluded the most statistically significant factor was whether an individual was a “nursing home” beneficiary or a “community” beneficiary.

“Nursing home” beneficiaries accounted for just 2% (1.4 million) of the Medicare beneficiaries (62 million), but about 22% of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S. CMS’s report concluded, “the location where beneficiaries reside (e.g. nursing homes) have significantly impacted COVID-19 related diagnoses, hospitalizations, and 30-day mortality.”

But because of vaccine mandates and booster shots, cases have already fallen 50 percent since Sept 1. If the declines continue, the risks for older Americans will be less. But until caseloads decline more, the situation remains frightening for many older people.

The most effective way to reduce caseloads is to continue raising the country’s vaccination rate, through workplace mandates and other measures. Vaccinating children under 12 can also save the lives of older people. For most Americans, vaccination makes the risk of a serious form of Covid extremely rare. And for children, Covid tends to be mild even without vaccination.

The unemployment rate has fallen back below 5 percent. The value of homes has continued rising. The S&P 500 is more than 30 percent higher than it was before the pandemic. Perhaps, we can get back to normal soon. Be safe.