State releases nursing home COVID-19 death count; numbers expected to grow
Preliminary numbers released by the state Wednesday show there have been at least 1,216 coronavirus-related deaths and 4,920 cases of infection associated with Michigan nursing homes.
That number is expected to grow as more facilities report to the state, Michigan's Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon said during a state Senate oversight committee hearing Wednesday afternoon.
“These numbers are not complete," Gordon said during the two-hour hearing.
While only partial data has been released, it is the first time state officials have provided a cumulative case count associated with nursing homes in Michigan.
State officials said 87% of nursing homes across the state have reported. They expect that number to be near 100% in the next two weeks.
Officials discussed reporting inconsistencies with the numbers provided by the state and those numbers provided by some local health departments. Some counties are reporting higher death counts. It's one reason the state expects the death total to increase.
The state's death count includes residents who died in a nursing home or other facility such as hospital, Gordon said.
Since the start of the pandemic, the true impact of the virus among nursing home residents in Michigan has remained unknown because of the lack of available statewide data.
The state has previously provided one-day snapshots showing the current number of coronavirus cases among residents at nursing facilities. It lacked the cumulative number of residents at each facility who contracted the virus, how many residents have recovered and the number of those who have died.
Gordon said initially they thought the snapshot approach would help determine COVID-19 hot spots. He said there was great interest in the cumulative data, which the state is now collecting.
Overall in Michigan, there have been 55,608 cases and 5,334 deaths associated with the virus, according to state data updated Wednesday.
Nursing home data hasn't been provided on the state's website in recent days as new federal and state reporting requirements are rolled out.
On Wednesday, lawmakers, both Republican and Democratic, also talked at length about their concerns over housing COVID-19 positive residents and non-infected residents in the same facilities.
Gordon said the state is open to changes.
"If people have ideas for how we can do better ... I think we are all ears," he said.
Contact Elisha Anderson: [email protected] Follow on Twitter: @elishaanderson
Contact Kristi Tanner: [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @MIdatalove