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Huge Percentage Of Ohio COVID-19 Deaths Come From Nursing Homes

A hand sanitizer station at a nursing home in central Ohio. Nursing homes were banned from allowing visitors in March.
A hand sanitizer station at a nursing home in central Ohio. Nursing homes were banned from allowing visitors in March.

More than three quarters of confirmed COVID-19 deaths in Ohio have come from nursing homes. This week’s total is a 30% increase from a week ago.

878 nursing home residents have died of COVID-19 since April 15. That's a 30% jump from 674 deaths reported on May 14, which followed a 35% jump in the 499 deaths reported on May 6.

The state updates cases among residents and staff weekly, showing those by facility and totaling them. There have been a total of 4,666 cases among residents and 2,124 among staff. And as of May 20, there are 1,410 current cases of COVID-19 among nursing home residents and 643 among staff. Over 400 nursing homes and long-term care facilities have reported cases and deaths among residents and staff.

But the website’s page listing deaths only breaks them down by county, and doesn’t total them.

The Ohio Department of Health confirms there were 369 deaths in nursing homes before April 15, when the state started reporting deaths.

So the total of COVID-19 deaths in Ohio nursing homes is 1,247, which is 79% of confirmed deaths.

DeWine didn’t address these numbers in his Thursday briefing, but has said a group of at least 10 Ohio National Guard units is being assembled to bring testing into nursing homes.

There are around 960 nursing homes in Ohio, licensed and certified by the Ohio Department of Health. A group representing nursing homes says it wants mass testing in those facilities, as has been done in three Ohio prisons. But the state has continued to say testing is limited.

Visitors to nursing homes have been banned since March 11.

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.
Karen Kasler
Contact Karen at 614/578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.