MONDAY, Aug. 24, 2020 (HealthDay News) — One in five U.S. nursing homes reports a severe shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and any shortage of staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report published online Aug. 20 in Health Affairs.

Brian E. McGarry, Ph.D., from the University of Rochester in New York, and colleagues examined the state of nursing homes with respect to adequate PPE and staffing using a new national database containing data from 98 percent of U.S. nursing homes.

The researchers found that a severe shortage of PPE and any shortage of staff were reported by more than one in five nursing homes (20.7 and 20.8 percent, respectively). Shortages of N95 masks and gowns were most common, at 13.4 and 12.6 percent of nursing homes, respectively. From May to July of 2020, there was no meaningful improvement in the rates of both staff and PPE shortages; N95 masks and gowns continued to be the most common types of PPE shortages (14.4 and 10.9 percent). The likelihood of reporting shortages was increased for facilities with COVID-19 cases among residents and staff and for those serving more Medicaid recipients and with lower quality scores.

“Many nursing homes in the United States are poorly prepared to prevent and manage COVID-19 outbreaks given a lack of essential PPE and staff,” the authors write. “Unless these shortages are prioritized by policymakers, long-term care residents will continue to be at a great disadvantage in the pandemic.”

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