Unexpectedly Intriguing!
August 19, 2020

During the early months of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, four states implemented and sustained policies that forced nursing homes and other long term care facilities to blindly admit patients who had been treated for COVID-19 infections.

The four states that actively engaged in this practice include:

  • Pennsylvania, where the policy was in effect from 18 March 2020 to 12 May 2020.
  • New York, where the policy was in effect from 25 March 2020 to 10 May 2020.
  • Michigan, where the policy went into effect on 26 March 2020. [Update 13 October 2020: Michigan 'officially' ended its policy on 30 September 2020, though we suspect its 'de facto' end came in late April or early May 2020.]
  • New Jersey, where the policy was in effect from 31 March 2020 to 13 April 2020.

There was a fifth state that very briefly adopted a similar policy, California, but since it quickly terminated its policy within a few days, we've omitted it from consideration altogether in this analysis.

We've visualized the percentage of COVID-19 deaths with respect to positive test results for the entire U.S. in a unique chart, where we've indicated the periods in which the policies that forced the admission of coronavirus-infected patients into nursing homes was in effect for the states of Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey (omitting Michigan, where we could not confirm if it has altered the policy it adopted on 26 March 2020). The chart shows a unique coincidence between the excessive number of COVID-19 deaths that occurred and the timing of when these states' coronavirus nursing home policies were in effect.

COVID Time Series: Cumulative Deaths in New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and Pennsylvania

It is also remarkable how the upward trend in COVID-19 deaths stops rising and begins to fall after Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey stopped forcing nursing homes and long term care facilities to admit coronavirus patients without testing to verify if they were still contagious.

With the share of cumulative deaths attributed to COVID-19 stabilizing at approximately three percent of the cumulative total of confirmed cases, we consider higher percentages as representing an excessive number of deaths with respect to confirmed cases.

The following chart, taken from the COVID Time Series site that visualizes state-level data from the COVID Tracking Project, shows how the cumulative number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 in these four states has racked up through the coronavirus pandemic to date. Here, we see that these four states were significant contributors to the excessive COVID-19 deaths that were recorded during the first three months of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.

COVID Time Series: Cumulative Deaths in New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and Pennsylvania

That timing coincides with the excessive COVID-19 deaths accumulated during the period where these states conducted their forced COVID-19 nursing home admission policies.

These admission policies are significant because elderly, sick Americans have proven to be the most at-risk of death from coronavirus infections, which was already well known at the time each of these states implemented their policies.

That these policies were sustained for as long as they were goes a long way to explaining why the U.S. saw such a large number of COVID-19 deaths during the period where these policies were in effect, where these states made an outsized contribution to the nation's COVID-19 death total. That other states refused to copy these policies, even as the viral infection spread in a delayed first wave, also helps explain why the ratio of cumulative COVID-19 deaths to confirmed cases nationally has fallen to roughly half the peak level recorded while these policies were practiced in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Michigan. Most the other states have done far better than these four states in protecting the most vulnerable portion of their populations from the coronavirus.

Previously on Political Calculations

Governor Cuomo and the Coronavirus Models

We reconstruct the information Governor Andrew Cuomo acted upon in panic as he chose to dump thousands of coronavirus-infected patients into nursing homes throughout the state of New York, where the infections then spread like "wildfire" among the portion of the population most at risk from it, greatly contributing to the state's outsized COVID-19 death totals. Also, we've maintained a timeline to track breaking news as the scandal of the "Governor Who Kills Grandmas" plays out.

What Happened in New Jersey's Nursing Homes?

A very similar story to what happened in New York, but far worse because of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy's desire to play Governor Cuomo's "Mini-Me". Then again, it is New Jersey, so what do you expect?...

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