A report released on March 2 said nursing homes have seen the lowest number of new COVID-19 cases since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) started tracking back in May 2020, suggesting that the vaccines are working, according to the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL).

Recent CMS data show that nursing homes have seen an 82 percent decline in new COVID cases among residents since the peak during the week of Dec. 20, 2020, when there were more than 30,000 new resident cases.

In the same period, community cases in the general population dropped by 46 percent, showcasing that vaccines are having an impact in protecting the elderly population in nursing homes, AHCA/NCAL said.

“We still have a long road ahead, but these numbers are incredibly encouraging and a major morale booster for frontline caregivers who have been working tirelessly every day for a year to protect our residents,” said Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive officer of AHCA/NCAL.

“These new data showcase just how important it is for nursing homes residents and staff, as well as the general public, to get the vaccine because it is clearly working.”

The report also said cases have dropped to the lowest level since CMS started tracking weekly COVID cases in nursing homes last May.
Along with the lowest number of new cases, COVID-related deaths in nursing homes declined by 63 percent since Dec. 20, 2020.

“Though this report brings hope, we cannot let our guard down. We must continue to encourage folks to get vaccinated, especially caregivers and staff,” Parkinson said.

“Public health officials must also continue to ensure that long term care residents and staff remain the highest priority for accessing the vaccine, as the on-site clinics with CVS, Walgreens, and other pharmacy partners are coming to a close.”

Another top priority, he added, is the AHCA/NCAL call for the Biden administration to review its current guidance to nursing homes on restricting visitors and group activities.

“With millions of residents and caregivers now fully protected thanks to the vaccines, residents must be able to safely reengage in meaningful activities and be reunited with their loved ones,” Parkinson said.

In December, AHCA/NCAL launched #GetVaccinated, a nationwide campaign to encourage all long term care residents, families, and staff members to consent to the vaccine as well as provide credible information to help inform their decision. Last week, AHCA/NCAL also announced the nationwide goal of getting 75 percent of all long term staff vaccinated by June 30.​