INDIANAPOLIS — After an audit of COVID-19 death reports conducted by the state, totals for local nursing homes increased by 15 deaths.

The update was announced a week ago, but data didn’t load until this week’s long-term care report.

Last week, Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box reported that the state would be updating its long-term care data again, adding 660 deaths that had already occurred but that were not attributed to facilities across the state.

The deaths already have been accounted for in the statewide total but were not reflected to nursing homes where the patients came from, either due to errors or oversight in the reporting system.

Box said numerous facilities had missed reporting one or two deaths, about 30 facilities had under-reported six to 10 deaths, and “a handful” missed more than 10 deaths.

Eight local nursing homes had their death counts change following the update, totaling 15 new deaths across the region. It’s unclear if any of the deaths are new, although likely not as the four-county area has seen almost no deaths recently.

The eight impacted nursing homes had their totals change by one to three deaths.

Northern Lakes Nursing and Rehabilitation in Angola and The Laurels of DeKalb in Butler each had three more deaths added to their totals; Presence Sacred Heart Home in Avilla and Betz Nursing Home and Auburn Village, both in Auburn, had two deaths added; and Aperion Care in Angola, Miller’s Merry Manor in LaGrange and Miller’s Merry Manor in Garrett, each had one additional death.

New all-time death totals are Northern Lakes, 18; The Laurels, 17; Sacred Heart Home 14; Betz Nursing Home 18; Auburn Village, 11; Aperion Care, eight; Miller’s LaGrange, 15; and Miller’s Garrett, eight.

In total, at least 141 residents of nursing homes have died in the four-county area among the 17 facilities in the region.

Despite this week’s update to the all-time death counts, the good news is that the 17 facilities are seeing essentially no new COVID-19 activity right now.

Only one facility had a new case reported for the week ending Feb. 17 — nursing home data runs a week in lag — and that was Lutheran Life Villages in Kendallville, with only one new staff case.

Like the rest of the state, new case activity has plummeted among nursing homes, which are also being protected due to facilities being on the high-priority list for vaccines.

As of Feb. 16, the state was averaging just 14 new cases of COVID-19 per day from nursing homes and seven deaths per day.

Those numbers are significantly down from peaks of 217 cases per day average on Dec. 6 and 52 deaths per day average on Dec. 22.

Nursing homes were a top priority for vaccinations in Indiana due to the high percentage of residents at risk of becoming seriously ill or dying of COVID-19.

Locally, with at least 141 deaths on 568 known cases in the four-county area, that’s a 24.8% death rate. Statewide, the known-case death rate for nursing home residents is similar at 24.6%.

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