WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — President Donald Trump on Thursday announced steps to help combat coronavirus in nursing homes across the country.
The AARP says the federal government and states have not done enough to help, saying 10,000 seniors in nursing homes have already died of the virus.
“How many more will die until we take action?” demanded Elaine Ryan of the AARP, which advocates for seniors. “These are the most vulnerable people in America. … They need our help.”
She said a fourth coronavirus response package from Congress should include more resources for nursing homes, including personal protection equipment, and require them to share more information with patients’ families about what’s going on.
“They are shut off from information and contact with their loved ones,” Ryan said. “Lives depend on action now.”
On Thursday, with Congress out of session and weeks away from taking any action, Trump signed an executive order on the matter, telling the Federal Emergency Management Agency to send PPE to all 15,400 Medicaid- and Medicare-eligible nursing homes in the country. New rules will require nursing homes to report all cases to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and make them public.
“And finally, to ensure that our nursing homes are prepared for any future outbreaks, we’re announcing the Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes,” Trump said.
The commission, which will convene in May, will be made up of federal and state health officials, industry leaders, patient advocates and families.
The AARP says it is still reviewing the president’s latest actions and is urging Congress to act regardless.
“AARP is calling on Congress to act quickly on a number of pressing needs, including protecting residents of nursing homes and other care facilities, expanding food assistance for the most vulnerable, and helping state and local government close budget gaps,” Nancy LeaMond, AARP executive vice president and chief advocacy and engagement officer, said.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said that when Congress reconvenes, it should pass a plan to give nursing home caregivers better pay.
“We need to give them the hazard pay that they need,” she said.
The Senate is scheduled to return to the Capitol next week.