Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, nursing home residents have accounted for one in six deaths in the United States. Nursing home workers have also been at risk, with more than one million workers testing positive since April 2020. Previous research has shown that unions play an important role in improving workplace safety for nursing home workers and their residents, and a previous single- State survey found lower COVID-19 mortality rates in union-affiliated nursing homes than non-professional nursing homes during the first wave of the pandemic. A new studypublished prior to printing by Health matters, used proprietary union-based nursing home data to examine the association between union status and COVID-19 deaths and found that unions were associated with a 10.8 percent lower resident COVID-19 mortality and 6.8 percent lower COVID-19 infection rates for workers. The data covered 13,350 nursing homes across the continental United States from June 8, 2020 to March 21, 2021.
Resident mortality and infection rates for COVID-19 workers lower in unions than non-affiliated U.S. nursing homes, 2020-21
By Adam Dean, Jamie McCallum, Simeon D. Kimmel and Atheendar S. Venkataramani
Dean is affiliated with George Washington University, McCallum is affiliated with Middlebury College, Kimmel is affiliated with Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center, and Venkataramani is affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania.
This study will also be featured in the May 2022 issue of the journal.
“The discovery that unions were linked to reduced resident mortality and worker infections has implications for public health leaders, nursing home administrators, patients and workers,” the authors conclude. “In addition to nursing homes, our findings are consistent with recent studies showing that unions were associated with better infection control policies and COVID-19 results for key workers in education and retail.”