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COVID-19 Risk in Assisted Living Similar to Nursing Homes

Assisted living communities with more minority residents have more COVID-19 cases

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THURSDAY, Sept. 24, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Individual-level risk factors associated with an increased risk for COVID-19 in assisted living (AL) facilities are the same as those seen in nursing homes, according to a study published online Sept. 21 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Helena Temkin-Greener, Ph.D., from the University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry in New York, and colleagues assessed variations in COVID-19 confirmed cases and deaths among AL residents by AL community characteristics.

Based on 3,994 AL communities in seven states, the researchers identified 2,542 COVID-19 cases and 675 deaths. State case fatality varied from 3.32 percent in North Carolina to 9.26 percent in Connecticut, but for AL facilities, case rates in these states were 12.89 and 31.59 percent, respectively. Among AL communities with at least one case, midsize communities had fewer cases compared with very small communities. There were more COVID-19 cases among AL facilities with higher proportions of racial/ethnic minorities, as well as among communities with higher proportions of residents with dementia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and obesity.

"Relying on AL communities to muster a rigorous response to the COVID-19 pandemic largely on their own is clearly unrealistic," the authors write. "AL communities and their residents urgently need local, state, and the federal governments to pay at least the same level of attention as that given to nursing homes."

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