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Congress has already passed relief packages totaling $3.6 trillion in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It may soon spend trillions more bailing out the U.S. Postal Service in addition to the airlines and city and state governments that have for so long embraced fiscal irresponsibility. Strange priorities in a crisis.
My home state of Ohio has seen 70 percent of its coronavirus deaths in long-term care facilities – nursing and assisted living facilities. This trend is similar around the country. Is it too much to ask that emergency funding instead goes to where it's clearly needed most?
For some time now, data has clearly shown that the elderly are the most at risk to die from coronavirus. An overwhelming number of fatalities have been over the age of 70, not to mention those who also had one or more comorbidities.
If this is the case, based on CDC data and that of health systems across the world, why has our response been to fight the smoke instead of the fire?
Long-term care facilities have been in the news for months throughout the global pandemic. We saw how in Spain the elderly were left for dead in their beds, only to be found by soldiers sent to disinfect nursing homes.
Our own actions to protect the most vulnerable have been mixed in the prolonged lockdown. We have flattened the curve so as to not overwhelm our healthcare system. Now we must reassess.
While the young and healthy clearly are at an overwhelmingly lower risk of death, we have ignored the vulnerable in hot spots such as nursing homes and long-term care facilities. In some instances, our response has exacerbated the spread of coronavirus.
Queue Governor Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y. He and his brother can spend all the time they want joking about the size of Q-tips on primetime cable TV.
Nothing can change the fact that the governor of New York not only ignored long-term care facilities but put their residents at greater risk.
Why is Cuomo still given praise for his Empire State response when we’ve known for weeks now about his tragic decision to send infected patients back into nursing homes?
Governor Cuomo’s failures are emblematic of our misplaced response to the pandemic.
Not only do we need to come up with a better approach to safeguarding our vulnerable in long-term care facilities, most critically we need to provide them with the resources they so desperately need. Congress has done what it usually does – misallocated resources. Many of the resources should have been directed to long-term care facilities.
The folks who work in these facilities face an incredibly difficult job dealing with the most vulnerable. Many of these patients need intimate assistance for life's most basic needs, such as eating and proper hygiene.
The brave employees at these facilities often go about their work without proper safety equipment.
Could not the $75 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and $25 million for the Kennedy Center have gone to buy supplies for long-term care facilities instead? Tragically enough, as Congress was passing the CARES Act, New York nursing homes were being forced to accept infected patients.
To a large degree, Congress’ focus so far has been on the wrong problems. Of course, with so many businesses shuttering their doors through no fault of their own and millions of Americans losing their jobs, a response was required.
At this point, though, shouldn’t we be spending less time debating who gets the next round of bailouts, and instead prioritize saving Americans who are most at risk?
A massive pork-barrel bill spending bill is out of the question. We need a single bill targeted at the heart of the problem.
Nursing home residents are the vulnerable populations of people that those who wish to safely and responsibly reopen the economy are talking about. Everyone agrees we must do our utmost to protect them. To say otherwise is an attempt to distract from the problem at hand.
While we spend trillions of dollars to keep healthy young bartenders at home watching T.V., our long-term care facilities are forced to use swim goggles and rain ponchos in lieu of proper PPE.
Why have we so neglected our elderly populations in nursing homes when, clearly, they are the most at risk? As we learn to live with COVID-19, we first must protect these who are overwhelmingly most at risk from the disease. Enough with the political bailouts. It's time to focus on where COVID-19 is truly a matter of life or death.