New numbers from AARP show Virginia is struggling to control the coronavirus in nursing homes with the second highest COVID-19 death rate in the country.
Almost every Virginian living or working in a long-term care facility who wants a vaccine is vaccinated, but COVID-19 is still claiming lives in nursing homes across the country.
"Here we are at this point in the pandemic and the numbers still aren't good,” said Jim Lau of AARP Virginia. “The numbers are still very bad, actually, and we remember that these numbers represent human lives. It's all the more tragic."
Lau said new cases and deaths are down but the most recent national data — from mid-January to mid-February — shows Virginia has the second highest rate of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes in the entire country during that time.
“Probably the number that makes the previous ones all the more infuriating is one,” Lau said. “It's been one year since the pandemic started. One year and we still find ourselves in a position talking about PPE and testing and staffing levels."
According to the Virginia Health Department, there are at least 15 active COVID-19 outbreaks in Virginia's long-term care facilities, including six in Northern Virginia.
The vaccinated population in D.C. may be overestimated in this map because some non-residents who work in D.C. are included in the totals.
AARP says Virginia needs to increase and continue testing in nursing homes and establish stronger oversight that holds long-term care facilities more accountable when they fail to provide adequate care to residents.
The Virginia Department of Health said it continues to support long-term care facilities by providing infection control guidance and recommendations.
While AARP says Virginia has the second highest rate of nursing home COVID-19 deaths in the country, D.C. is 11th, still higher than the national average, and Maryland is slightly below the national average with the 26th highest rate.