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The screengrab above is from the Vermont Department of Health Weekly Summary of Vermont COVID-19 Data. It makes quite clear how residents of long-term care facilities are the majority of deaths from COVID-19 in that state. Similarly, the following chart illustrates the same thing, just adding that “Health Settings” include not only hospitals and long-term care, but therapeutic centers and behavioral health institutions as well.
Contrast Vermont’s data clarity with that of Minnesota. Although it is reported that 81% of Minnesota’s deaths occurred among residents of long-term care facilities, that is not easily demonstrated by the Minnesota Department of Health’s Stay Safe MN website. First, the only data that mention long-term care facilities is “case data,” not “death data.” Second, what death data there is is only disaggregated by race and ethnicity, not any other factors:
Are LTC and Residential Behavioral Health “Non-Hospitalized?”
No correlation of deaths to anything other than race and ethnicity. Why is it important to correlate death to race and ethnicity, but not to residence in long-term care?
Of course, Minnesota is not alone in obscuring the relationship between infections in long-term care facilities and death. But why? When the data suggests that just getting your long-term care facilities infection control protocols in place would have reduced your deaths from COVID-19 by 80%, why wouldn’t you focus your energy there rather than house arrest for all residents? I get it that if you have a lot of infected but asymptomatic or minimally ill people going about, there is a greater challenge in protecting the residents of the long-term care facilities. But how is it less costly to impact the livelihoods of tens of millions rather than treat long-term care facilities more like Level 4 Bio labs?
The New York and Florida situations have been contrasted with regard to, in the one case, introducing infections into long-term care facilities, and in the other, putting emphasis on protecting residents of long-term care facilities as compared to other broader societal restrictions. As Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted, there does seem to be some correlation between the governing philosophies and the epidemic outcomes:
The first thing is focusing your efforts on the vulnerable, not controlling the whole of your society. Maybe you are obscuring the data so that it doesn’t make clear the consequences of your governing philosophy?
[Note: Links to all my COVID-19 posts can be found here.]Published in