David Dunn-Rankin

Widely reported and widely repeated is the idea this coronavirus preys on the weak and elderly. The reports are true. COVID-19 is much more deadly to the elderly than the young.

People ages 0-24 represent 22 percent of all the positive tests so far in Florida, but only one-fourth of 1 percent of all the deaths. Adults 25-34 represent 20 percent of all the cases in Florida but just 1 percent of deaths.

Think about that for just a minute. People under 35 in Florida are about 44 percent of all the cases but barely over 1 percent of all the deaths. If you are under 35 and otherwise healthy, you are highly unlikely to die from the coronavirus. The regular flu might be more dangerous to your age group.

On the other hand, those 85 and older represent just 2 percent of cases in Florida but are 13 percent of all hospitalizations and 34 percent of all deaths. Of particular concern are those 85 and older in nursing homes.

The news cycle makes it seem as if the pandemic is everywhere in our nursing homes. The more interesting news is exactly how few nursing homes in Florida have had COVID-19 deaths.

The state of Florida tracks the coronavirus outbreak across more than 1,600 long-term care facilities. Surprisingly, at least to me, 70 percent of all Florida’s nursing homes have had no deaths reported among their residents.

There is no data on how many residents are in those 1,600 plus facilities. Extrapolating from other sources, I estimate there are 200,000 residents in these long-term care facilities.

This means there is only a 1 out of 100 chance, so far, if you live in a Florida long-term facility for the elderly, you may be killed by the coronavirus. Given the average life expectancy of someone in a nursing home is usually less than three years because of other health issues, the lack of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes is amazing.

How is it possible, if 34 percent of all deaths in Florida are those 85 and older, that less than 1 percent of the nursing home residents have caught and died from the virus?

How is it possible, after all these months, 70 percent of our nursing homes have not had one death from the coronavirus?

Without a doubt, the employees of Florida’s nursing homes deserve a huge thank you for their meticulous diligence in keeping their patients safe. Frequent testing of employees and limiting visitors has also helped a lot.

But nothing takes the place of a nursing home employee willingly, carefully and lovingly following health care best practices.

I happen to believe there are so few nursing home deaths because the vast majority of nursing home employees feel their work is a calling. They feel a love and responsibility for each individual patient that extends far beyond the job.

Thank you, nursing home employees, for recognizing the sanctity of life of all ages no matter the person’s mental or physical condition. You all are amazing. You are my heroes.

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