Risk factors for outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 infection at retirement homes in Ontario, Canada: a population-level cohort study Academic Article uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: The epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 infection in retirement homes (also known as assisted living facilities) is largely unknown. We examined the association between home-and community-level characteristics and the risk of outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 infection in retirement homes since the beginning of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: We conducted a population-based, retrospective cohort study of licensed retirement homes in Ontario, Canada, from Mar. 1 to Dec. 18, 2020. Our primary outcome was an outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 infection (≥ 1 resident or staff case confirmed by validated nucleic acid amplification assay). We used time-dependent proportional hazards methods to model the associations between retirement home- and community-level characteristics and outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 infection. RESULTS: Our cohort included all 770 licensed retirement homes in Ontario, which housed 56 491 residents. There were 273 (35.5%) retirement homes with 1 or more outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 infection, involving 1944 (3.5%) residents and 1101 staff (3.0%). Cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection were distributed unevenly across retirement homes, with 2487 (81.7%) resident and staff cases occurring in 77 (10%) homes. The adjusted hazard of an outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 infection in a retirement home was positively associated with homes that had a large resident capacity, were co-located with a long-term care facility, were part of larger chains, offered many services onsite, saw increases in regional incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and were located in a region with a higher community-level ethnic concentration. INTERPRETATION: Readily identifiable characteristics of retirement homes are independently associated with outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 infection and can support risk identification and priority for vaccination.


  • Costa, Andrew
  • Manis, Derek R
  • Jones, Aaron
  • Stall, Nathan M
  • Brown, Kevin A
  • Boscart, Veronique
  • Castellino, Adriane
  • Heckman, George
  • Hillmer, Michael P
  • Ma, Chloe
  • Pham, Paul
  • Rais, Saad
  • Sinha, Samir K
  • Poss, Jeffrey W

publication date

  • May 10, 2021

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