Long-term care providers called a move to potentially disband the White House Coronavirus Task Force “alarming,” equating the decision to leaving the “battle in the middle of a fight.”
“We need more leadership, not less, to protect older Americans whose lives are on the line,” said LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan.
“This sends a terrible signal. Is the White House losing resolve and focus on fighting the most dangerous pandemic in a century as it threatens an entire generation of Americans,” she questioned.
Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday said the administration is considering winding down the task force and shifting its responsibilities to individual departments and agencies, according to national media outlets.
As several states begin to reopen, Pence cited the country’s “tremendous progress” made to fight the pandemic and said a phaseout of the task force could be completed by the end of May or early June.
White House officials noted that the task force, which was established in January, was a temporary arrangement, and the administration still plans to remain vigilant against the pandemic.
Smith Sloan said aging services providers need “strong and focused directives from the top, as well as a coordinated effort, for the delivery of desperately needed personal protective equipment (PPE) and rapid-results testing.”
“Right now, it appears that our leaders are willing to leave older Americans and those who support them on the battlefield to fend for themselves,” she said. “The only thing that matters now is real leadership and comprehensive action. We cannot leave the battle in the middle of the fight.”
Last week, the White House disclosed the formation of a COVID-19 task force for nursing homes. It is called the Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes.