Fact-check: Is NC’s COVID-19 death rate among nursing homes the worst in the Southeast?

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Nursing homes across the country have been particularly prone to coronavirus outbreaks.

CBS 17 News took a closer look at a strong claim made by the Carolina Partnership for Reform.

THE CLAIM

In a post on its website Thursday, the group said that according to the New York Times, North Carolina “has the worst Covid-19 death rate for nursing home residents and workers in the Southeast.”

THE FACTS

The Times assembled a data set in a story from May 11 titled “One-Third of All U.S.
Coronavirus Deaths Are Nursing Home Residents or Workers,” examining how many COVID-19 fatalities involve nursing homes.

But what the Times calculated is not the death rate, but the nursing homes’ share of deaths — i.e., the percentage of overall deaths that involve nursing homes. That is determined by dividing the number of deaths of nursing home residents and workers in a state by the total number of deaths in that state.

At the time, the newspaper said there were 565 total deaths in North Carolina with 322 of those involving nursing homes — for a percentage of just under 57 percent.

But the similar figure in Virginia was 58 percent, and Kentucky also was at 57 percent.

In the most updated figures reported Thursday by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, 436 of the state’s total 827 COVID-19 deaths involved nursing homes — or, 52.7 percent.

CBS 17 News also calculated the actual death rate — also known as the case mortality rate, the total number of deaths divided by the total number of cases in a particular population.

Using those May 11 numbers from the New York Times, the case mortality rate among coronavirus-infected residents and workers at North Carolina’s nursing homes was 12.9 percent — 322 deaths among 2,499 cases at that time.

That ranks 26th nationally, ahead of several Southeastern states — Louisiana (20.8 percent), Mississippi (15.9) and Virginia (13.2) with Florida (12.8) close behind.

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