Indiana will release nursing home virus data

By The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana heath officials plan to collect and release to the public statistics on coronavirus infections and deaths at individual nursing homes after refusing to do so for more than two months.

The state will have long-term care facilities submit information on when COVID-19 virus cases occurred, how many residents and employees have died from the illness, how many have recovered and demographics for those infected.

Dan Rusyniak, chief medical officer for Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, said Wednesday he expected preliminary data will be released in mid-July, with a user-friendly website being developed in the following weeks.

At least 1,166 residents of 178 Indiana nursing homes have died with the coronavirus, according to a weekly update released Monday by the state health department. That represents about 45% of the state’s total coronavirus-related deaths, with at least seven nursing homes around the state having more than 20 resident deaths.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb and other state officials in April stopped identifying specific nursing homes with outbreaks, despite complaints from relatives of home residents about a lack of communication about illnesses and deaths. State officials have maintained that those facilities face federal and state requirements to notify the families about their COVID-19 status.

Nursing homes across the country have been devastated by COVID-19 deaths as elderly people and those with serious health troubles living in nursing homes are among the most at-risk from severe illness due to the coronavirus.

Rusyniak said the state’s policy change comes after the largest associations that represent and lobby for long-term care facilities and AARP expressed their support for providing facility-level information.

“As we have all learned, responding to this pandemic requires us to continuously evaluate our approaches, and when appropriate, to change them,” Rusyniak said. “This is one of those times.”

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