Wyoming Nursing Home Residents and Staff Saw Higher COVID-19 Cases Due to Omicron
Wyoming saw large increases in its numbers of nursing home residents and staff who tested positive for COVID-19 from Jan. 20 to Feb. 20, 2022, according to the American Association of Retired Person's COVID-19 Nursing Home Dashboard.
Wyoming had the fifth-highest rate of COVID-19 cases among residents from January to February, with 12.5 cases per 100 residents, while West Virginia had the nation’s highest COVID-19 rate for nursing home residents at 16.3.
In the last month in Wyoming, the number of nursing home residents who died due to COVID-19 increased from .11 per 100 residents to .75 per 100 residents, 14 total, the third-highest rate in the nation.
During the same four-week period, Wyoming had a rate of 23.1 per 100 cases of COVID-19 among nursing home staff, which was the second-highest in the nation, behind Alaska at 28.9, an increase from the previous month's average of 15.7.
Nationally, more than 4,000 residents died from COVID-19 during this same time period, while the death rate remains lower than at any time in 2020 before vaccines were available.
Vaccination rates for Wyoming nursing homes residents are near the middle, with 90.4% of residents fully vaccinated, compared to the national average of 94.9%, while among nursing staff, 76.1% are fully vaccinated, compared to the national average of 86.4%.
Tom Lacock, the AARP of Wyoming associate state director for Communications and State Advocacy, said the lower staff vaccination rate may explain the current staffing shortage in the state.
"I think the relatively high COVID cases among staff is probably directly attributable to the low vaccination rate and then that obviously leads to staffing shortages," Lacock said.
From January to February, 70.6% of nursing homes in the state had a shortage of aides or nurses, almost twice as high as the U.S. average of 35.9%, but lower than the highest shortage Wyoming had in December 2021 at 73.5%.
While the AARP's dashboard only has data up to Feb. 20, according to more recent numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control, rates of resident and staff cases and resident deaths have declined rapidly, down about 75% to 80% nationally.