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New report from AARP shows Arizona nursing homes in crisis

(AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias, File)

PHOENIX – With one of the most at-risk populations, nursing homes have been caught in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest report from the AARP’s Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard shows just how bad the crisis continues to get in Arizona.

In the four-week period ending on Dec. 20, 70.5% of nursing homes in Arizona reported residents with confirmed cases of coronavirus and 95.5% of facilities reported at least one staff member diagnosed.

A reflection to what the state has also experienced, the rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Arizona’s nursing homes have skyrocketed in the last three months.

The recent report tracked what occurred on the inside of Arizona’s nursing facilities from September to December. Over those four months, new confirmed cases grew by 1,200% among residents, from 1.1 to 14.3 per 100 residents.

Deaths among residents increased from 0.21 to 1.84 per 100 residents. That means deaths increased by 776%.

“Almost a year into the pandemic, nursing home residents and staff remain trapped in a petri dish, nearly defenseless against coronavirus,” AARP Arizona State Director, Dana Marie Kennedy told KTAR News.

As the legislative session gets underway in Arizona, AARP urges elected officials to act immediately. Kennedy wants improved transparency and quality of care in nursing facilities.

“After what happened in Hacienda [Healthcare], we worked on a task force to come up with some recommendations and the legislature was not able to complete those recommendations last year because they stopped early,” Kennedy said.

In hopes of improving infection control, understaffing, and improving overall quality of care – AARP has compiled a list of recommendations for elected officials to focus on this year:

  • Improving transparency focused on daily, public reporting of cases and deaths in facilities; communication with families about discharges and transfers; and accountability for state and federal funding that goes to facilities.
  • Ensuring access to in-person visitation following federal and state guidelines for safety and require continued access to virtual visitation for all residents.
  • Ensuring quality care for residents through adequate staffing, oversight, and access to in-person formal advocates, called long-term care Ombudsmen.
  • Rejecting immunity for long-term care facilities related to COVID-19
  • Providing supplemental staff wages and benefits

The full COVID-19 Nursing Home Dashboard is available online. More information on how COVID is impacting nursing homes and AARP’s advocacy on this issue is available on their website.

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For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit

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