Newly released data shows that the toll of the coronavirus on New Hampshire's nursing homes, assisted living facilities and similar institutions is even worse than previously known, representing more than three-quarters of the state's COVID-19 deaths to-date.
While state officials have acknowledged that these face a special risk when it comes to the spread of COVID-19, the new data — released in response to a request by NHPR — paints a sobering picture of the pandemic’s impact inside these institutions.
State health officials say 66 of the 86 — or nearly 77 percent — of coronavirus-related deaths reported as of May 4 are linked to outbreaks at nursing homes or similar institutions. According to data compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation, that would represent a higher proportion than in any other state for which information is publicly available. (New Hampshire was not included in Kaiser's analysis, as it has not been routinely reporting this data until now.)
Some New Hampshire nursing homes have been hit particularly hard. At Hanover Hill in Manchester, 18 deaths have been linked to COVID-19 — more than any other facility in the state — while 68 residents and 52 staff have been infected. At Pleasant Valley Nursing Center in Derry, 92 residents and 38 staff have been infected, with five deaths.
Overall, 473 residents and 266 staff of long-term care or similar facilities have been diagnosed with COVID-19 as of May 4. That accounts for roughly 28 percent of all COVID-19 cases identified in New Hampshire to-date.
Elderly and medically frail populations are considerably more at risk for serious illness and death from COVID-19. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services last week announced plans to begin testing the staff at many state nursing homes for possible COVID-19 infection, in an effort to limit the spread of the disease.