The White House’s Coronavirus Task Force held a public briefing for the first time in more than two months late last week, and the most notable accomplishment from it might have been the way it further inflamed long-term care providers’ indignation.
The nation’s second-largest nursing home association said that considering the high death toll among seniors and facility residents in particular, it is “outrageous nursing homes and older Americans have not been [a] task force priority.”
“[Forty percent] of all COVID fatalities have been nursing home residents or care workers. If 40 percent of the Coronavirus Task Force work isn’t about nursing homes, they’re doing something wrong,” LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan said in a statement Friday.
Her comments came after Vice President Mike Pence and task force members touted what the administration sees as positive accomplishments during the global health crisis. Over the weekend, coronavirus cases worldwide surpassed 10 million — with the death toll reaching 500,000.
LeadingAge noted that more than 80,000 people over the age of 65 have died from the virus in the United States.
“The Vice President’s effort to paint a false portrait of the pandemic at [Friday]’s briefing does not erase the inadequate and patchwork federal response to this ongoing national tragedy,” Sloan said.
“We heard nothing about the needs of older adults — other than an out-of-touch suggestion that older people ask their grandchildren to shop for them. We heard nothing about a real federal focus on the needs of residents of nursing homes and their care workers,” she added.
Her organization has been a vocal critic of the administration’s efforts to help long-term care providers. She added that “it’s time for federal leaders to get honest and get focused. Nursing homes need resources that they still don’t have to save lives — especially ample [personal protective equipment], and accessible and rapid-results testing. We hope that the task force gets it right this time around.”