Senators Issue Blistering Report On Government’s Response to COVID-19 in Nursing Homes

Three U.S. Senators, all Democrats, released a report slamming the federal response to the threat of COVID-19 to nursing home residents on Wednesday.

Sens. Bob Casey, Penn., Gary Peters, Mich., and Ron Wyden, Ore., issued the report, which argued that the Trump administration’s deregulatory moves and failures to prepare for the pandemic worsened the COVID-19 crisis, particularly in nursing homes. The report also provided a list of recommendations to address the ongoing fallout of the virus in skilled nursing facilities.

The report zeroes in on the federal response for a lack of timely and complete COVID-19 case and death data for nursing homes, delayed and inadequate resources and support, the lack of a national testing strategy, and a lack of oversight.

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The senators recommended several steps to deal with the spread of COVID-19 across the country, including:

  • Ensuring adequate data collection
  • Congress providing “adequate funding” for states and nursing homes
  • The provision of sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) and access to testing, predicated on adequate funding
  • Investment in Medicaid to expand access to long-term services and supports in the community and at home
  • States facilitating strategies to mitigate spread, such as cohorting residents based on COVID-19 status and sending in surge teams to deal with workforce shortages
  • Providing workers with adequate pay and essential benefits
  • Improving emergency management and infection control in nursing homes

The report included several timelines of the response to the COVID-19 emergency, including one that highlighted shortfalls in COVID-19 case and death data and another showing the federal response to the spread of COVID-19, as well as a timeline of the PPE shipments from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“The lack of access to adequate PPE, limited availability of testing, and severe staffing shortages put States, communities, and nursing homes at an immediate disadvantage in combating the initial and continued spread of COVID-19,” the senators wrote in the report.