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COVID-19 Death Count Varies With Race of Nursing Home Residents

FRIDAY, Feb. 19, 2021 -- Nursing homes with the lowest proportion of White residents experience higher COVID-19 death counts, according to a study published online Feb. 10 in JAMA Network Open.

Rebecca J. Gorges, Ph.D., and R. Tamara Konetzka, Ph.D., from the University of Chicago, conducted a cross-sectional study of 13,312 nursing homes in the United States to describe differences in the number of COVID-19 deaths by nursing home racial composition.

The researchers identified 51,606 COVID-19-associated deaths among residents, with a mean of 3.9 deaths per facility. In nursing homes with the lowest (quintile 1) versus the highest (quintile 5) proportion of White residents, the mean number of deaths was 5.6 and 1.7, respectively; facilities in quintile 1 versus 5 experienced a mean of 3.9 more deaths, representing a 3.3-fold higher number of deaths. After adjustment for the number of certified beds, the mean difference between the nursing home groups was reduced to 2.2 deaths. This correlation was not modified after controlling for case mix measures and other nursing home characteristics. The mean difference was reduced to 1.0 death after adjustment for county-level COVID-19 prevalence.

"Disparities in deaths by nursing home racial composition are associated with the disproportionately high spread of the disease in non-White communities and the characteristics of the nursing homes that serve those communities," the authors write.

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