To date, 35% of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) deaths in the United States have occurred among nursing home populations (https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama-health-forum/fullarticle/2763666), compared with 14% in Japan (Werner et al. 2020). How did Japan manage such a low proportion of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes? The similarity in case-fatality rates among patients with COVID-19 in nursing homes in the two countries (both approximately 16%) suggests that the infection rate in nursing homes in Japan was much lower than in the United States. Therefore, the pandemic unmasked long-standing problems with the quality and financing of US long-term care (LTC) services (Grabowski 2020; Werner et al. 2020). We compare differences between the LTC systems of Japan and the United States, focusing on the measures adopted to protect against COVID-19 in Japan.
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