Nursing Home – Herd Immunity

Angie Szumlinski Health, Studies

The State of Louisiana Department of Public Health has been publishing the nursing home Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID19) statistics of the 281 nursing homes in the state since April 18, 2020. The following are the results of the analysis of these data. A database was created containing the name of the facility, the initial census, the COVID prevalence, and the mortality for each of the 23 weeks of their reported data. Five patterns of COVID prevalence were identified and Group 4 (homes having completed a cluster of COVID during the period of the data collection) was specifically analyzed as it had sufficient data available during the entire course of the infective cluster.

What was found was that nursing homes are in effect a natural experiment with regard to the COVID epidemic. Each of the nursing homes is isolated from the general population and the social distance of the residents is quite low. In this nursing home population, the cluster burned out when approximately 60% of the residents were infected and there has not yet been a resurgence of the COVID cluster in any of the homes. Either herd immunity was achieved or approximately 40% of the population was resistant. As a result of deaths and normal patient turnover, at some point there will be a sufficient susceptible population and so recurrent clusters may result.

Well, that is truly interesting! Isn’t “herd immunity” the buzzword today? Without being a scientific guinea pig, this nursing home literally shed light on the concept of herd immunity! There is hope, there is going to be a “new norm” and we will enjoy that “norm” when we are safe to do so! Stay the course, stay well, mask up, get vaccinated, and stay tuned!