New University of Chicago Study Shows Nearly Two-Thirds of Assisted Living Facilities Reported No COVID-Related Deaths

Assisted living providers have faced extreme financial strain in keeping residents safe and healthy, but have received little federal financial relief to date.

Alexandria, Va., June 03, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- New research unveiled today by NORC at the University of Chicago found that nearly two-thirds of assisted living facilities reported no deaths from COVID-19 in 2020. The study calculates that average adjusted death rates from COVID-19 in assisted living was 19.3 per 1,000 residents.

“This study affirms that the swift and careful actions taken by assisted living providers helped make a significant difference in the midst of the global pandemic,” said James Balda, Argentum president & CEO. “These facilities have incurred great expenses and endured substantial financial distress to keep staff and residents healthy, and now it’s imperative that the government step up and provide critical financial relief.”

According to the study, the following are percentages from senior congregate care settings with no reported COVID-19 deaths in 2020:

  • Independent Living: 67%
  • Assisted Living: 64%
  • Memory Care: 61%
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities: 39%

The study also notes the wide range of challenges facing senior living providers during the pandemic, and how these “challenges placed a strain on the industry both financially and operationally.” These challenges came despite caring for a highly vulnerable population—the average age in senior living is 85, and most residents live with multiple comorbidities and need assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing, eating, and medication management.

Senior living providers had to swiftly adapt to new building layouts, policies, rules, and changing reporting requirements to keep residents safe and healthy. They also had to work to secure scarce PPE and testing supplies and to contract with labs to process those tests quickly and efficiently. In addition, many operators increased pay, provided extra benefits, and made operational changes to staffing in order to limit exposure and possible COVID-19 spread.

Argentum also recently released new data showing that senior living providers will incur an estimated $29.8 billion in uncompensated financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with some states seeing upwards of $2.4 billion in losses. While the federal government allocated money for provider relief in last year’s CARES Act, less than 1 percent of that funding has been designated toward helping senior living communities, despite the extraordinary efforts they employed to keep residents safe. This allocation pales in comparison to many other providers.

The study released today by NORC at the University of Chicago is one of the first of its type to look at the impact of COVID-19 on senior living providers separate of skilled nursing facilities. NORC at the University of Chicago is a nonpartisan research organization utilized by the government, as well as corporate and nonprofit clients.

About Argentum
Argentum is the leading national association exclusively dedicated to supporting companies operating professionally managed, resident-centered senior living communities and the older adults and families they serve. Since 1990, Argentum has advocated for choice, independence, dignity, and quality of life for all older adults. Argentum member companies operate senior living communities offering assisted living, independent living, continuing care, and memory care services. Along with its state partners, Argentum’s membership represents approximately 75 percent of the senior living industry—an industry with a national economic impact of nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars and responsible for providing over 1.6 million jobs. These numbers will continue to grow as the U.S. population ages. Argentum’s programs and initiatives are driven by its membership. Learn more at


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