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Senior Advocates Ask Ricketts to Report Nursing Homes with COVID-19

Nebraska is one of 13 states with at least 50% of deaths from COVID-19 connected to nursing homes. (U.S. Army Reserves)
Nebraska is one of 13 states with at least 50% of deaths from COVID-19 connected to nursing homes. (U.S. Army Reserves)
May 13, 2020

LINCOLN, Neb. -- AARP Nebraska is urging Gov. Pete Ricketts to release the names of nursing homes and assisted-living communities with confirmed COVID-19 cases among their residents and staff.

AARP Nebraska state director Todd Stubbendieck said residents and families deserve to have this information for their own health decisions, as they consider possible next steps and interventions for family members.

"The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that 62% of COVID-19 deaths in Nebraska are related to long-term care facilities; that's the fourth-highest rate in the nation," he said. "It's good to be in the top five usually, but this is not a top five ranking that we want."

He said a second letter has been sent this week to Ricketts, following up on an April 24 request for greater transparency during the pandemic. AARP isn't asking for the disclosure of any private patient information. The governor has said he won't release the names of facilities, but will provide aggregate statistics for cases across the state.

Facilities caring for older Americans have become ground zero in the struggle to contain COVID-19, and Stubbendieck said many states are posting facilities impacted on health department websites. He said transparency is critical for ensuring the health of both residents and staff.

"I think there's also a public health part of this," he said. "How do we make decisions based on what's happening where, if we don't have the 'what's happening where' part of this, and we don't know where these cases exist?"

He said residents of nursing homes and assisted-living communities are sheltering in place at what is their home, minimizing their public contact and unable to have visitors. But they continue to face higher death rates.

The letter is online at states.aarp.org, and the Kaiser brief is at kff.org.

Disclosure: AARP Nebraska contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Consumer Issues, Health Issues and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Galatas, Public News Service - NE