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COVID-19 cases rise in Mountain West nursing homes amid lagging booster rates

A U.S. map with color-coded states to show the percentage of nursing home residents who are vaccinated from COVID-19 with at least one booster. Nevada and Florida rank toward the bottom of the spectrum, whereas South Dakota and Hawaii are toward the top.
Courtesy AARP
This AARP Public Policy Institute map shows the percentage of nursing home residents in each state that are fully vaccinated with at least one COVID-19 booster shot for a four-week period ending on June 19, 2022.

COVID-19 cases in nursing homes are climbing, and a new report reveals a wide range of case and vaccination rates in the Mountain West.

According to AARP, one in 35 nursing home residents in the U.S. tested positive for COVID-19 in June – a 27% increase from May. The death rate also nearly doubled, jumping from 0.04 deaths to 0.07 deaths per 100 residents.

“This is a level of cases that’s comparable to what we saw during the first COVID summer in 2020,” said Ari Hauser, a senior analyst for AARP’s Public Policy Institute.

And that was before the vaccines were available. Now, Hauser says, most residents have received their primary series of COVID-19 vaccinations. That’s not the case, however, for booster shots.

In Nevada, only 58% of nursing home residents have received at least one booster shot – the lowest rate in the country. New Mexico is also below the national average with a rate of 71%. Both states also rank in the top five for rates of COVID-19 cases.

“Being up to date on vaccinations and boosters is really critical to preventing the most severe outcomes from COVID,” Hauser said.

Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Idaho are all above the national booster rate of 74%

Data on second boosters will be released in the coming months.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Kaleb is an award-winning journalist and KUNR’s Mountain West News Bureau reporter. His reporting covers issues related to the environment, wildlife and water in Nevada and the region.
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