Senator Robert Casey

The administration’s failure to “adequately prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic” and its “delayed and disorganized response” contributed to the pandemic’s deadly impact in nursing homes, according to a report released by a group of Democratic senators Wednesday.

The report, which Sens. Bob Casey (PA), Gary Peters (MI) and Ron Wyden (OR) issued, found that the federal government failed to implement a cohesive plan to ensure healthcare providers and that frontline workers in long-term care facilities didn’t have a steady supply of personal protective equipment. In addition, report authors said, federal authorities didn’t prioritize and distribute $100 billion emergency funding to those facilities quickly enough. 

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)

The senators also accused the administration of not providing timely, complete and accessible COVID-19 case and death data for nursing homes. And the administration did not implement a national testing strategy and was too late in providing guidance on how to conduct new infection control oversight measures at facilities, the report said.

“[U]rgent action is needed to address the tragedy that continues to unfold in nursing homes,” authors said.

They issued a series of recommendations, which include providing PPE and testing to nursing home workers, ensuring adequate data collection, and giving workers sufficient pay and benefits. The lawmakers also called on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and Federal Emergency Management Agency to improve emergency management and infection control practices in nursing homes. 

Many of these recommendations are included in a bill, the Nursing Home COVID-19 Protection and Prevention Act (S. 3768), which would provide $20 billion to help states, nursing homes and other congregate settings implement strategies to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Casey, Peters and others introduced this bill.

“Our report makes it clear that the Trump Administration’s deregulatory agenda, repeated failures to adequately prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic, and its delayed and disorganized response exacerbated, and in some instances contributed to, a worsening public health crisis that has disproportionately affected the most vulnerable populations in the United States,” the senators said in a statement.