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In the News
May 25, 2021

Most US Nursing Homes Had Multiple, Sustained COVID-19 Outbreaks, GAO Reports

Author Affiliations
  • 1Consulting Editor, JAMA Health Forum and JAMA
JAMA Health Forum. 2021;2(5):e211621. doi:10.1001/jamahealthforum.2021.1621

The majority of US nursing homes experienced 2 or more outbreaks of COVID-19 from May 2020 through January 2021, and many such outbreaks had weeks of sustained transmission, according to a report from the federal government’s Government Accountability Office (GAO).

In addition, two-thirds of the outbreaks began with a staff member who tested positive during the first week of a given outbreak.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on residents in the nation’s more than 15 000 Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing homes. “While the introduction of vaccines and the sharp decline in nursing home cases and deaths since their peaks in December 2020 may indicate that nursing homes are seeing a reprieve, little is still known about the frequency and duration of COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes at critical points during the pandemic,” the report notes.

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