To be elderly and living in a nursing home, during this pandemic has often meant feeling isolated, forgotten, and cast aside. Or as Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick said back in March, expendable.
“As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves… those of us who are 70 plus we will take care of ourselves… It’s worth whatever it takes to save the country.”
We have to disagree with the Lt. Governor on this one. Each life should be cherished and no person is dispensable. Our most vulnerable population has been least cared for of late. The number of lives lost in nursing homes has been staggering. The AARP reports during the pandemic “30,000 deaths from the coronavirus… in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.” The number may actually be higher since nursing homes are self-reporting and those who die there may have other underlying conditions listed on death certificates.
“The impact has been felt in cities and suburbs, in large facilities and small, in poorly rated homes and in those with stellar marks.” Even worse, the newspaper writes, “Covid-19 has been particularly virulent toward African-Americans and Latinos: Nursing homes where those groups make up a significant portion of the residents — no matter their location, no matter their size, no matter their government rating — have been twice as likely to get hit by the coronavirus as those where the population is overwhelmingly white.”
The Wall Street Journal adds that “Public-health officials are warning that Covid-19 could surge again in the winter. The single most effective way to save lives would be to improve infection control in nursing homes and prepare to rush supplies of masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment to these facilities. Overlooking nursing homes was the biggest lost opportunity in the battle against Covid-19.”
And remember when there was a rush to get ventilators and PPE to hospitals? The WSJ adds that “It was an impressive accomplishment. Yet nursing homes were ignored, despite early warnings they would be the deadliest places.”
This past week a group of Democratic lawmakers introduced a bill aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes. The bill would provide “$20 billion to help states, nursing homes, and intermediate care facilities contain the spread of COVID-19 to protect residents and staff.” If signed into law, the money would help segregate patients, increase staffing, testing, provide appropriate treatment & PPE, and more. Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL) one of the bills co-sponsors says:
“More than one million people in this country live in nursing homes or similar facilities. This virus has caused a devastating loss of life among the people who live and work in nursing homes. This bill will provide the necessary funding to protect these vulnerable people for the remainder of this pandemic.”
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) adds:
“The measure of government’s success is whether it can defend its people. We are failing to defend Americans in nursing homes from the coronavirus, and our leaders must act. This bill will help save lives.”
Watch more from the CBS affiliate in San Diego above.
This post contains opinion.