The list is far from complete. More than half a dozen states with significant outbreaks — including Maryland and Virginia where dozens of nursing home residents have died — have not released the names of facilities with cases of the virus.
On Sunday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced new reporting requirements, mandating that nursing homes inform residents, their families and the federal government about cases of covid-19. Under the new rules, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will collect the information.
CMS Administrator Seema Verma said Monday that the data, including deaths among residents and staff members, would be publicly released “in short order.”
Some nursing home watchdog groups, however, said the guidance was vague and that facilities can’t accurately report covid-19 cases without a sufficient number of tests.
For weeks, reporting gaps have outraged families and patient advocates, who say transparency is a key tenet of public health.
“The failure to require early reporting in specific facilities was responsible for making the spread of the virus worse in nursing homes,” said Charlene Harrington, a sociology and nursing professor at the University of California at San Francisco who has studied nursing homes for more than 30 years.
States including Louisiana, Michigan, Texas and Pennsylvania have not released the names of nursing homes, in some cases citing patient confidentiality. None of the states that have so far released the names of facilities have identified patients.
Though officials in New York reported that more than 300 nursing homes have positive cases, the state has released the names of only 74 facilities — those with five or more deaths.
Even states that have publicly identified nursing homes have drawn criticism. Some have released facility names but no death counts. Others said they erroneously listed facilities without cases of the virus while leaving affected facilities off the list.
Officials in Ohio put up an online list last Wednesday and abruptly took it down two days later, calling it inaccurate. California officials released a statewide list Friday but named only facilities that had reported cases within the previous 24 hours. The list did not include the Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Riverside, where dozens of patients were infected and the facility evacuated this month after a majority of the staff did not show up for work.
“The tragic fact of the matter is that even these numbers represent only a fraction of the true toll the virus has taken in nursing homes across the state,” said Mike Dark, a lawyer with the nonprofit California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. “The figures are self-reported, and no state inspectors are on the ground in these nursing homes to check their accuracy.”
Without information, hospitals are at risk of releasing fragile patients to nursing homes with outbreaks and families could be denied the chance to pull relatives from overwhelmed facilities, Harrington said.
“If they don’t know the virus is there, then they don’t even have that option to make that decision,” she said. “It’s just so grossly unfair.”
The federal government has not released a count of deaths in nursing homes, but state health departments and media reports have placed the number in the thousands. The counts have generally included all types of long-term-care facilities, including assisted-living facilities and group homes.
The Post looked at nursing homes that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding, finding more than 3,000 deaths and known coronavirus cases at about 1,350 facilities nationwide as of Monday morning. The Post’s analysis and list include only nursing homes certified by the federal government, not other types of elder-care facilities such as assisted-living centers or retirement homes.
The list of Medicare-certified nursing homes with cases of the virus more than doubled over the weekend as Florida, Illinois and California for the first time publicly released the names of facilities and other states expanded their lists. New Jersey, second only to New York in the number of virus cases and deaths, released a list of more than 400 long-term care facilities Monday afternoon.
On Monday evening, Massachusetts released a list of long-term care facilities with two or more confirmed cases of the virus.
Michigan announced on Monday that it would begin requiring nursing homes to submit daily reports on the number of cases to state health officials.
Nearly 45 percent of the nursing homes with known coronavirus cases nationwide were repeatedly cited in recent years for violating federal rules meant to protect residents from the spread of infections, The Post found. Experts say it’s difficult to know whether past infractions contributed to the spread of the virus, but infection control has become a top concern among public health officials.
In Oregon, state inspectors this month ordered immediate training in infection control at a nursing home in Portland with at least nine deaths. The facility failed to screen staffers before they entered the building or ensure that caregivers washed their hands or wear personal protective equipment, inspectors found. In New Mexico, the state attorney general is investigating a nursing home with at least 13 deaths, saying managers did not require staff members to wear gloves or enforce social distancing.
On Monday, CMS Administrator Verma said the new reporting rules will help the government better respond and track the virus in nursing homes.
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living said providers are poised to share virus-related case information with the CDC.
“Knowledge is pivotal during a pandemic, and our public health officials need to know where to send urgently needed resources,” Mark Parkinson, president of the group, said in a statement.
One nursing home watchdog group, however, called the new reporting requirement "too little and very late."
Nursing homes can't provide accurate information if they don't have testing, said Toby Edelman, senior policy attorney with the Center for Medicare Advocacy. Facilities, she said, should be reporting to state health departments that can send in tests, equipment and additional staff.
“The guidance muddies, rather than clarifies, the issues,” Edelman said.
Jacobs and Mulcahy are graduate students in journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill Investigative Lab. The Post’s Maria Sacchetti contributed to this report, along with Sidnee King at the Medill Investigative Lab.