The Pennsylvania Department of Health recently launched a new dashboard to provide a comprehensive view of the COVID-19 impact on residents and staff in 688 nursing homes across the state.
The department published the new Skilled Nursing Facility data dashboard with facility-level COVID-19 resident and staff cases, deaths and vaccination rates, leveraging data that nursing homes are already required to report to the federal government. This will be updated weekly each Friday.
“We are continually striving to provide the most comprehensive and accurate data available on the impact of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania and this new dashboard is another step toward that goal,” said Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam. “For the first time, people are able to go to one location to see how many COVID-19 cases and deaths have occurred in any facility, along with vaccination rates for residents and staff.
“It is important to remember that behind every COVID-19 data point is a person directly affected by this virus. That’s why reporting the data is important, but even more important is our effort to get as many eligible people vaccinated now so that we can end the suffering caused by this pandemic.”
Prior to this dashboard’s publication, nursing homes were required to report COVID-19 data to both the state and federal governments. The self-reported data to the state was posted weekly. By shifting to using the federal data, the state reporting requirement is eliminated, allowing administrators more time to focus on residents. The final data reported to the state, which shows cumulative resident cases and deaths and staff cases back to May 14, 2020, will remain available online.
According to Beam, presenting nursing home case and death data, alongside vaccination rates, further underscores the importance of nursing home staff and residents getting vaccinated. Many studies have been conducted over the past 18 months to better understand how COVID-19 made its way into nursing homes and how it spreads. Two of the most prominent findings are that the prevalence of COVID-19 cases in the community is consistently associated with COVID-19 cases and deaths in long-term care settings, and that staff infections appear to be a link between cases in the community and long-term care settings. Staff are the ones entering, leaving and re-entering facilities on a daily basis.
“It is clear that getting vaccinated is the most effective way to prevent getting COVID-19 and to prevent it from spreading among the community and into facilities,” said Beam. “The department strongly encourages stakeholders, families and loved ones, and the public, to use this data to better understand the overall picture of a facility, and to continue to encourage staff vaccinations among nursing home staff to help keep residents, staff, family members and the community safe.”
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