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About the data

On August 12, we launched the Long-Term Care COVID Tracker, but the work of compiling the dataset began much earlier. On May 21, 2020, a team within The COVID Tracking Project started collecting long-term care data from every state that reported it.

Every Thursday evening, this dedicated team of volunteers gathers COVID-19 case and death data reported in long-term care facility residents and staff from state and territory websites, recent press conferences and releases, and directly from state health department officials. We publish this data every Friday as a cumulative, current outbreak and aggregate dataset.

Reporting standards vary drastically across the nation, and many states share data that’s difficult to find, challenging to export or unavailable without a direct relationship with the state. Some states report cumulative cases and deaths while others report only current outbreaks. Every state defines an outbreak in a different way. We’ve done our best to represent the scale and scope of the pandemic within these communities, despite these variations.

Public notes accompany each state’s and territory’s data to explain the intricacies of what they report. You’ll also find definitions of our data categories throughout the tracker to help you navigate and use these datasets. These datasets aim to only represent facilities for seniors like nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and residential care homes, and excludes, when possible, facilities not specifically for the elderly like chemical dependency residential treatment centers, behavioral health residential facilities, and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

See also our Frequently Asked Questions about Long-Term-Care data. To submit a question, use our contact form.

Common terms you’ll find throughout the tracker:

  • Long-term care: A broad term that includes all types of facilities that provide housing and care to seniors and others.
  • Cumulative: COVID-19 total data within the time frame of the date of reporting and the reported collection starting date. States vary in their reported cumulative data start date.
  • Current outbreaks: A COVID-19 outbreak is reported when the first COVID-19 case (or cases) is identified in a facility. This outbreak is considered closed once a specified time period (28 days, 14 days, etc.) has passed without the discovery of a new case.
  • Probables: Probables are cases or deaths reported by states, where a person had symptoms of COVID-19 but no positive laboratory COVID-19 test. Reporting differs by state about which symptoms constitute a probable case. For probable deaths, reporting differs by pre-mortem symptoms, post-mortem health signifiers, and health officials reporting the death.

Facility Types

  • Nursing Homes: Includes both skilled nursing facilities and nursing facilities. Skilled nursing facilities are those that participate in both Medicare and Medicaid. Nursing facilities are those that participate in Medicaid only. Nursing homes primarily engage in providing residents skilled nursing care and related services for residents who require medical or nursing care and rehabilitation services for the rehabilitation of injured, disabled, or sick individuals.
  • Assisted Living Facilities: A facility that provides housing and meals, personal care assistance and other supportive health services to promote resident independence. States generally regulate these facilities.
  • Lumped or Other Facilities: Data from states that have not broken down their data by facility type, so it might include data from nursing homes or assisted-living facilities. It also includes some congregate living facilities for older adults that are neither nursing homes nor assisted-living facilities.

The table below presents a summary of long-term care staff or resident confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths reported by states. Every state reports differently. Some states do not report at all. Refer to the state notes for more information.