As COVID-19 Crisis Escalates, Vice Presidential Florida Photo-op Underscores Need for Overhaul of Federal COVID Leadership

PRESS RELEASE | July 02, 2020 | by Lisa Sanders

Mounting Infections, Testing and PPE Failures Threatening Older Adults

Contact: Lisa Sanders
lsanders@leadingage.org 202-508-9407

July 2, 2020, Washington, DC -- Statement from Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO, LeadingAge, the association of nonprofit providers of aging services, including nursing homes.

Today, as the Vice President drops in and out of Florida for a photo-op, coronavirus infections are surging and too many care providers around the country are struggling without the tests, supplies and resources they need to protect older Americans from the worst pandemic in a century.

Yesterday the Vice President flew to Arizona for a quick photo-op where he elbow-bumped the governor, refused to acknowledge the escalating number of infections there, and got back on the plane.

The numbers don’t lie: We are losing to this virulent virus. Happy talk, photo ops, and token gestures of assistance are not helping.

Enough is enough. Where is the leadership? Where is the top-level champion who spends his time cutting red tape? Where is the war room monitoring a growing catastrophe around the clock? Where is the top-level federal point-of-contact where desperate care providers can turn to for help and get real relief? Mr. Pence, what are you going to do to fix this?

In the past few days, the rapid acceleration of COVID-19 infections has been compounded by an avalanche of breaking news revealing federal government incompetence and inattention during—one that is threatening more lives every day, including millions of older Americans who are especially vulnerable.

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that “we’re going in the wrong direction,” and that the rate of new infections could swiftly double to 100,000 a day.
  • Even as the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) grows around the country, government documents reveal that the federal government ran out of free face masks to distribute last month—without informing the public.
  • Leading private sector test providers and independent experts are confirming that delays and even stoppages in coronavirus testing are spreading, even as the virus surges. “This is very bad,” warned Harvard epidemiology professor Michael Mina. Adds Johns Hopkins emergency-medicine professor Lauren Sauer: “I think we all fear significant access issues and supply-chain disruptions in the near future.”
  • A new report from several Senators confirms a litany of widespread failures in the federal government’s response, including PPE deliveries to nursing homes that involved unnecessary delays, delivered faulty and unusable supplies, and initially left eligible nursing homes off the distribution list.
About LeadingAge:

We represent more than 5,000 aging-focused organizations that touch millions of lives every day. Alongside our members and 38 state partners, we address critical issues by blending applied research, advocacy, education, and community-building. We bring together the most inventive minds in our field to support older adults as they age wherever they call home. We make America a better place to grow old. For more information: www.leadingage.org.