WASHINGTON - In a Thursday address on “protecting America’s seniors,” President Donald Trump discussed new initiatives pertaining to COVID-19 and its impact on nursing homes and their residents.
Prior to delivering his remarks on nursing homes, the president noted that he would sign a proclamation making May “Older Americans Month.”
"Older Americans are cherished and invaluable members of our society, deserving our utmost respect, gratitude, and admiration," from the proclamation. "During Older Americans Month, we pause to draw upon the wisdom, spirit, and experience older adults bring to our families, our communities, and our Nation."
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Among the new initiatives were:
-Additional shipments of PPE to all Medicaid/Medicare nursing homes in the U.S
-$81 million from the CARES act to increase inspections of nursing homes during the pandemic
-The finalization of a new rule on information about coronavirus cases in nursing homes to be reported directly to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with that same testing data made available online for all to see
-Requiring nursing homes to inform residents and family members about new COVID-19 cases
-Ensuring that nursing homes are prepared for COVID-19 outbreaks
-New state grants to support state and local efforts in nursing homes
-Coronavirus commission for safety and equality in nursing homes to protect residents
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While the novel coronavirus can be contracted by anyone, older individuals are at a higher risk of negative health outcomes due to preexisting medical conditions.
Nursing homes in particular have been hit hard by the virus. Residents often live in close proximity to one another and since some individuals can be asymptomatic or not exhibit COVID-19 symptoms for up to 14 days. Those who are infected may be spreading the disease without knowing it.
Staffs at health facilities, including nursing homes, across the country have expressed their dismay over a lack of PPE in their effforts to combat the virus.
In New York, 19 nursing homes reported nearly 20 or more deaths, while at one home in New Jersey, 70 deaths were reported out of 500 residents.
A suburban Minneapolis nursing home says 47 residents have died from complications of the coronavirus. At that same home, 130 residents tested positive for the virus and 65 staff members had been exposed or shown symptoms, according to the Associated Press. Most of that state's COVID-19 deaths have occurred in nursing homes.
Similarly, 70 people died at a Massachusetts nursing home in what is currently known as the deadliest coronavirus outbreak at a long-term care facility in the U.S.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.