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VERIFY: Nationwide nursing home deaths top 29,000, but new data lags

A viewer received a bulletin with a claim about COVID nursing home deaths, and WFMY learned of challenges tracking this data.

RUFFIN, N.C. — Every day, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) puts out new COVID-19 numbers, and one of the most disheartening trends throughout this pandemic is the huge impact the virus is taking on nursing homes.

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VERIFY QUESTION

Credit: WFMY via Earlene Gentry

Viewer Earlene Gentry from Ruffin e-mailed 2 Wants To Know asking, "Can this statement be verified? It came from a bulletin I received."

Gentry explained the bulletin came from an international news agency, and it reportedly claimed, "Over 45,000 Americans in nursing homes have died since the start of the pandemic."

Gentry said she saw a similar figure in an e-mail that appeared to be from the AARP.

"So many numbers get passed around these days that staying properly informed is essential," Gentry emphasized.

VERIFY SOURCE

US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) 

VERIFY PROCESS

To VERIFY, WFMY News 2's Meghann Mollerus sought out the source for nationwide nursing home data -- the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). It is the federal office that decides a facility's eligibility to participate in the Medicare program.

The CMS has a new website that compiles COVID-19 nursing home data from each state. The last website update was June 18...but for data from the first week of June. So, it appears there is approximately a week-and-a-half lag time in obtaining and publishing this data.

CMS reported 29,497 nursing home deaths across the country, as of June 7, with more than 100,000 confirmed cases and 71,000 suspected cases.

But, there are some challenges with this data, other than the lag time. The CMS numbers are for Medicare and Medicaid nursing home providers, not assisted living or other senior apartments. Also, these numbers pertain to infected residents, not staff members. Different states count nursing home data differently.

VERIFY CONCLUSION

Is it true 45,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 in nursing homes? It is possible, due to a lag time in data, and differences in how states classify nursing homes. But, since the official source on this data has a lower number, the VERIFY team must dub this statement as false, for now.

Tune into WFMY News 2 at Noon every day for new COVID numbers.

Do you have a VERIFY inquiry? Reach out to Meghann Mollerus via:

Facebook: Meghann Mollerus News

Twitter: @MeghannMollerus

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