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Photo: Lynsey Addario/Getty Images

The death rate among Medicare patients in nursing homes surged by 32% last year, a government watchdog report out Tuesday found, per AP.

The big picture: The report from the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General is the most comprehensive look yet at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on one of its most vulnerable populations, AP writes.

By the numbers: Overall deaths jumped by 168,291 from the year before, while 4 in 10 Medicare patients likely had COVID-19 in 2020, according to the report.

  • Death rates in 2020 were higher every month when compared to 2019. In April of 2020, 81,484 Medicare patients in nursing homes died.
  • Asian American patients saw the highest increase in death rates, with 27% dying in 2020, compared with a 17% death rate the previous year.
  • Low-income nursing home patients covered by Medicare were more likely to have gotten COVID-19, with an infection rate that reached 56% and a death rate of 26%.

What they're saying: "We knew this was going to be bad, but I don’t think even those of us who work in this area thought it was going to be this bad," David Grabowski, an expert on long-term care, told AP.

  • “This was not individuals who were going to die anyway,” he added. “We are talking about a really big number of excess deaths.”

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: CDC says some immunocompromised people can get fourth COVID shot — FDA panel endorses Pfizer vaccines for 5-11 year olds — Moderna says vaccine shows strong immune response in kids
  2. Health: 96% of Tyson Foods employees vaccinated ahead of mandate deadline — U.S. releases updated vaccination, testing rules for foreign travelers — Those who miss work without pay due to COVID also had food insecurity
  3. Politics: Alabama governor orders state agencies to fight federal vaccine mandate — Axios-Ipsos poll: Confidence in Biden COVID recovery tumbles — New York City police union files lawsuit against vaccine mandate.
  4. Education: Benefits of vaccine for children outweigh risks, FDA says — Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

AT&T mandates COVID vaccination for most unionized workers

Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

AT&T expanded its COVID-19 vaccine mandate Wednesday to employees who are members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union.

Why it matters: The communications giant is one of the biggest employers in the U.S. to require frontline workers to be vaccinated against the virus. The union said it represents some 90,000 AT&T workers, per AP.

Updated 58 mins ago - World

Brazil senators vote to recommend criminal charges for Bolsonaro

Brazilian senators vote on probe into President Bolsonaro's handling of pandemic. Photo: Gustavo Minas/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Brazilian Senate committee Tuesday voted to approve a report recommending President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with a raft of criminal indictments, including crimes against humanity over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, per AP.

Why it matters: Bolsonaro has become the face of a right-wing approach to the pandemic that includes repudiating vaccines and masks and resisting lockdowns and other mitigation measures. The Senate report holds him personally responsible for half of the country's 600,000 deaths.