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COVID-19 cases dropping in Indiana nursing homes, data shows

Vaccination and slower community spread both factors
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Posted at 2:58 PM, Mar 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-01 18:01:20-05

INDIANAPOLIS — New numbers show the number of COVID-19 cases in Indiana nursing homes is steadily dropping.

The Indiana Health Care Association, which represents many Indiana long term care facilities, says they’ve seen a decrease over the past 4-8 weeks.

There’s likely two reasons for the decline, according to IHCA president Zach Cattell.

One reason is the spread of COVID-19 in the community is also dropping.

“The number one driver of nursing home cases is connected to the overall spread of COVID-19 and the greater community,” Cattell said. “As the overall spread in Indiana has come down from a peak in late November and through December, we are seeing the results of that in nursing facilities.”

A second reason is the increased availability of vaccinations for long term care residents and staff in Indiana facilities.

In Indiana, 42,000 long-term care residents and staff are fully vaccinated, Cattell said, and at least 122,000 have received one dose.

“The vaccine supply continues to come. Indiana is doing OK in the vaccine rollout for nursing facilities,” Cattell said. "As I look at some data on the CDC website, we’re a little behind some other states but still doing OK."

According to data provided to WRTV by the American Health Care Association, Indiana had 111 cases in long term care facilities as of Feb. 7 — a significant decrease from January, when weekly numbers for nursing homes were regularly more than 1,000 cases.

A preliminary analysis by the Center for Health Policy Evaluation found that COVID cases decreased at a faster rate among facilities that had completed their first vaccine clinic compared to those that had not yet administered the vaccine — indicating that the vaccines may help reduce transmission, not just severe illness.