Nursing home deaths soared roughly 32% in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, a watchdog report said Tuesday.
Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General found the virus ravaged assisted living facilities for the elderly with roughly 42% of Medicare beneficiaries in those settings diagnosed with COVID-19 or likely had the virus. That amounts to a whopping 1.3 million people.
The watchdog’s report found that of all Medicare beneficiaries in elderly care facilities, 22.5% died in 2020, an increase of one-third from 2019 levels. That amounts to about 170,000 more deaths in 2020 than if the mortality level remained the same from 2019.
Notably, each month of 2020 saw higher mortality rates than the corresponding month the previous year with nearly 1,000 more Medicare beneficiaries dying in April as the pandemic took hold in the country.
While April 2020 saw the highest spike compared to the same month in 2019, 6.3%, it was closely followed by December at 6.2%.
The winter saw a second major surge in the US outbreak as more people opted to congregate indoors with others as temperatures dropped, setting the stage for the virus to more easily spread.