About the Data
The impact of COVID-19 on nursing home residents and staff has been devastating. Long term care facilities account for nearly 40% of all US deaths during the pandemic. A major driver of the spread of infections is staff who work in multiple nursing homes—either due to the nature of their job or to make ends meet. The research shows these connections accounted for nearly half of nursing home deaths from COVID-19 in 2020. Further, the more connected a home is, the more that home is at risk.
Yale and UCLA faculty in partnership with U.S. Digital Response have developed this tool to help translate data into action—specifically, to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases in nursing homes through understanding the interconnectivity between facilities. This tool uses anonymous cell phone mobility data overlapped with geo-locations of nursing homes to identify which facilities are interconnected and to what degree.
How did researchers discover the connections?
Researchers obtained a measure of cross-traffic between nursing homes using anonymized smartphone data. Smartphone users opt in to tracking by apps and the anonymized data are sold to commercial providers. The data covers roughly 30% of US smartphone users with coverage of both major platforms.
Specifically, researchers measured the extent to which smartphones that appear in one nursing home appear in another nursing home. They did this for the six-week period following the shutdown of nursing homes to visitors beginning on March 13.
What did the researchers find?
During the period where there are essentially no visitors, 7% of smartphones that appear in one US nursing home appear in another. Even when controlling for a large number of factors, the degree of cross-connectivity amongst homes predicts the presence of cases across homes. Put simply, the more connected a nursing home is, the more at risk its residents and staff are.
Is this research published?
Yes. The data powering this site is the same as that used for the published, peer reviewed article by Yale and UCLA faculty:
Chen, M. K., Chevalier, J.A. and Long, E.F. (2020). Nursing Home Staff Networks and COVID-19. National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper Series (27608).
Retrieved online: http://www.nber.org/papers/w27608
Will this data be updated?
Researchers are currently reviewing data that would capture additional time periods. When the new data set is available, the tool will be updated.
Can I have access to the data file?
The data may be available on request. Please email protectnursinghomes@yale.edu and include the name of the institution you work for and how you intend to use the data. We will make a determination on a case-by-case basis.
Is this tool only for COVID outbreaks?
No. Year in and year out, nursing homes are disportionately impacted by many infections. We expect this tool will be useful to policymakers and practitioners beyond COVID-19 response. The tool may inform policies and practices to contain the spread of other infections—including by higher levels of surveillance at more connected facilities and early warning systems to reach out to nursing homes whenever there is an outbreak at connected homes.
How did you come up with the list of nursing homes?
The researchers used the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services official list of skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) and nursing facilities (NFs) that are required to be in compliance with the requirements in 42 CFR Part 483, Subpart B, to receive payment under the Medicare or Medicaid programs.
I still have questions, is there someone I can contact?
Yes, please email your question to protectnursinghomes@yale.edu and we’ll respond within a few days.