Alarming New Federal Nursing Home Data Raises Serious Questions About Maine

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 5/17/21

From Sen. Brad Farrin

(AUGUSTA, ME) – On Thursday, the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released its weekly data on the COVID-related infection and death rates in nursing homes across the country. This data includes the week ending May 2.

For the fourth time in the six weeks ending with that date, Maine led the nation in the infection rate among nursing home residents. Sadly, this week, Maine also ranked sixth in the death rate of this same population.

In one of those six weeks, Maine ranked second to New Jersey in the infection rate and in another week, our rate was more than double the next highest state. Remarkably, Maine has dominated this category for six weeks.

This new data raises many questions. How is it possible that a population we believed was completely protected by the vaccine has suddenly become so vulnerable? What is Maine not doing that every other state is doing better?

During this period, leaders in the Mills administration downplayed the danger to nursing home residents by stating that Maine had among the lowest infection and death rates in the U.S. when the opposite was true.

These six weeks led up to Governor Mills’ announcement of how she believes more than $2 billion in additional state and federal money should be spent, yet she recommended that less than one half of one percent of this money go directly to the immediate needs of these facilities.

Why was the Governor not made aware of this very troubling data before she made her recent funding proposals? Why has the legislature not been briefed on this crisis? What is the plan to immediately address this ongoing problem?

We have been aware for a very long time now that nursing homes are in desperate need of adequate funding to immediately hire more staff and protect our most vulnerable citizens. We have already lost 450 of them—60% of all COVID deaths in Maine. It is now up to the Legislature to act to provide this funding and remedy this horrible situation.

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Contact: Tom Desjardin, Maine Senate Republicans, 207-416-2230

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