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Long-Term Care Deaths

By September 26, 2022Commentary

Been a while since we updated this chart.  you will note that early on LTC deaths dominated, likely due to the vulnerability of that population.  As the vulnerable pool depleted somewhat, non-LTC deaths and LTC ones ran similarly.  In the early Omicron era, with heavy vax rates of the LTC population, its share of deaths dropped, but now, with far lower death rates overall, we have less clear trends.  All subject to caveats about excessive attribution of deaths to CV-19.

Dave’s notes:

  1. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) provides relatively limited data on the number of cases and deaths occurring for residents of Long Term Care (LTC) facilities. Since 6/30/2022 MDH publishes a cumulative total of LTC deaths attributed to Covid every Thursday. In addition MDH publishes the cumulative number of deaths among jail inmates and among “High-Risk Congregate Care Facilities”, which includes group homes, homeless shelters, etc. The remaining deaths, which make up a large proportion of the deaths, occur in residents of private homes. For purposes of these charts we are grouping all non-LTC deaths together.
  2. We last published charts on LTC death here on 7/08/2022: At that time MDH was publishing daily cumulative totals of death for LTC residents, and we were using 7 day running averages instead of 4 week running averages. This causes the chart to appear much less smooth than the version were are publishing today.
  3. The cumulative death totals for LTC residents, and non-LTC residents, can be found on the Setting Specific Data page on the MDH Situation Update for COVID-19 web page, here: Cumulative long term care resident deaths are found in the notes under the “Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing Facilities” graphic. Note that MDH does not report actual LTC deaths by date of death, but only reported cumulative deaths every Thursday. We therefore do not know when the reported LTC deaths actually occurred. By using 4 week rolling averages in Fig. 2 we hope that any errors in the proportions due to mismatched timing of LTC and non-LTC death reports may be minimized.
  4. Fig. 1: This chart displays the average deaths per week of the 4 week period ending on the date on the horizontal axis. During the initial wave in Covid cases in late 2020 the number of deaths for LTC residents and non-LTC residents were roughly equal. Since the LTC population was relatively small the per capita death rate in LTC facilities was much higher than for the general state population. In the Delta and Omicron waves in late 2021 and early 2022 LTC deaths were much lower than the non-LTC deaths. This is at least partly due to the high rate of vaccination in LTC facilities. While MDH does not publish vaccination rates for LTC residents, we do know that by 9/19/2021 approximately 90% of the entire 65+ population was vaccinated, and on 10/3/2021 the administration of boosters in the 65+ age group started and ramped up very rapidly. By 12/12/2021 about 70% of the 65+ population was boosted, and the LTC population was probably boosted at a higher rate than that. See Fig. 9 here for vaccination and booster rates for the 65+ population over time.
  5. Fig. 2: The data in Fig. 1 is displayed as simple proportions of the residence type for rolling 4 week periods. After the end of the main wave of Omicron cases in March 2022 the proportions fluctuate back and forth around 50%, meaning there is no real trend in the data. The number of deaths since March 2022 is much lower as well, so it takes very few reported deaths to swing the proportion one way or the other.

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