RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The number of North Carolina’s long-term care facilities that are understaffed went up by 13 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A study by Seniorly finds more than a quarter of those facilities in the state are short on staff, putting it among the top third of states most affected during the past two years. 

North Carolina’s rate of 27.4 percent ranks 14th nationally, the study found.

Across the nation, the rate has doubled in two years, climbing from 11 percent in 2020 to more than 22 percent this year. Those staffing shortages have worsened in all but three states.

Minnesota had the highest understaffing rate at 41 percent, followed by Washington (38 percent) and Maine (38 percent).

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports 4,941 COVID deaths at nursing homes with another 1,641 at residential care facilities.

Taken together, they account for 28 percent of the state’s 23,334 reported COVID-19 deaths — higher than the national rate of 23 percent, according to the study.

Staffing issues at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have been a consistent problem throughout the pandemic, both in North Carolina and nationally, as COVID’s impact has led waves of front-line workers to leave those jobs.