Two-Thirds of PA COVID Deaths Have Occurred in Nursing Homes

PA Attorney General Opens Criminal Investigation into Long-Term Facilities in the midst of a coronavirus outbreak that has ravaged nursing homes across the state. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has opened criminal investigations against certain PA nursing homes, according to a CBSN Philly article. While the attorney general has not specified which facilities or how many in total will be investigated, he declared that negligent nursing facilities and caretakers would be held accountable for criminal neglect.

“While we salute and appreciate nursing home staff on the front lines during this pandemic,” he said in a written statement, “we will not tolerate those who mistreat our seniors and break the law.”

The attorney general’s announcement, PA Attorney General Opens Criminal Investigation into Long-Term Facilities, comes as PA Department of Health state data reveals that, despite comprising only a quarter of Pennsylvania’s total coronavirus cases, nursing home COVID-related deaths account for nearly 70 percent of deaths from the coronavirus in the state.

As of May 17, the number of people in the state who tested positive for the coronavirus reached 62,234, of which only 15,538 are comprised of nursing home residents and staff. By contrast, of the 4,418 total COVID-19 deaths reported in the state of Pennsylvania, 3,057 occurred in nursing homes. This equates to 69.1 percent, a number which has climbed from the 68.6 percent reported by on May 14.

The PA Department of Health website goes on to show the breakdown of nursing home coronavirus deaths by county. In Chester County 85 percent of the 220 deaths occurred 38 nursing homes. Montgomery County comprised 84 percent of the county’s 620 deaths in 89 facilities. In Bucks County, 52 nursing homes had 420 deaths, which equaled 81 percent of the total COVID deaths in the county.

According to the DOH, Pennsylvania nursing homes have been battling from the onset of the pandemic to contain the virus, which has infected nearly 13,500 residents in 558 facilities across the state. According to CBSN, the National Guard was deployed to those homes with the most severe outbreaks.

Shapiro’s plan to investigate certain PA facilities has coincided with the announcement by Gov. Tom Wolf that universal COVID-19 testing will now take place within PA nursing homes in an effort to mitigate further spread of the virus.

Prior to the governor’s plan, diagnosing and isolating infected patients and workers had been challenging within PA nursing homes as adequate numbers of sufficient COVID tests have not been available.  The coronavirus can be spread before symptoms appear, making testing critical in nursing homes and long-term care facilities within which the virus has proven nationwide to run rampant.

PA health secretary Dr. Rachel Levin says that an adequate number of tests have now been made available for nursing homes in the state to test all residents and staff. According to new Health Department guidelines, regardless of whether staff or residents show symptoms of COVID-19, facilities are encouraged to test everyone, particularly those residents returning to a facility from a hospital stay. Even facilities showing no known infections are, under the guidelines, urged to test 20 percent of its residents on a weekly basis.

According to CBS, some feel the governor’s plan has been too slow in coming.

“While other states were ramping up testing in nursing homes and were transparent in granting access to the public about COVID-19 deaths occurring in those facilities, Pennsylvania’s nursing homes had been forgotten about in our war against COVID-19,” a written statement by Independent Sen. John Yudichak of Luzerne County said. “Nine weeks without a robust plan is far too long.”

Dedicated to Holding Negligent Nursing Facilities Accountable

In these unprecedented times, it’s more crucial than ever to make sure your loved one’s Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, or New Jersey nursing home meets every standard for safety and quality care. If you’re concerned about the quality of a Philadelphia/PA or NJ facility during the coronavirus pandemic, or if you suspect neglect or abuse has occurred at the Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, or New Jersey nursing home where your loved one lives, please contact nursing home abuse attorney Brian P. Murphy to discover your legal rights and options.