AARP Vice President of Governmental Affairs Bill Sweeney talks about the ongoing COVID 19 crisis in America's nursing homes and what is being done to protect seniors. Sweeney cites recent statistics that as many as 40% of COVID 19 deaths are nursing home related.

Addressing the plight of Coronavirus and the elderly, Sweeney says, "It's been a complete nightmare. In Louisiana we know that it's been almost one in four people in nursing homes, 5,222 cases of people who have contracted COVID 19, 1,200 people have died. Across the country it's 51,00 people."

Sweeney adds that the number of Americans in nursing homes is quite substantial. "People in nursing homes represent about one percent of the population, but represent 40% of the people who have died from COVID 19.

Sweeney then details how, thanks to new federal requirements, nursing homes are now reporting on cases and deaths each week, but there are still gaps in the data. In fact, a recent report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, at least 44,000 people in nursing homes or other long term care facilities have already lost their lives as of June 4th, meaning that roughly 2 in 5 COVID-related deaths in America.

In addition, an AARP analysis shows an average of 517 nursing home residents and care providers have died in the US every single day during the pandemic.

Sweeney also points listeners to AARP recommendations to insure the safety of nursing home residents:

Federal funding to provide testing and PPE for staff and residents. Despite federal guidance, some nursing homes still are not testing all of their staff and residents regularly.

Virtual visitation for residents and families. Congress should legislate adequate funding for the technology, equipment, and other support needed for nursing home visits. Most in-person visits are still prohibited for people in nursing homes and the CDC has recommended that nursing homes follow strict protocols before they reopen.

The ability to hold facilities accountable if residents are harmed, neglected or abused. AARP strongly opposes proposals to grant immunity related to COVID-19 for nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other long-term care facilities, at both the state and federal level.