LeadingAge Demands Overhaul of Federal COVID Leadership As Mounting Infections, Testing and PPE Failures are Threatening Older Adults

PRESS RELEASE | July 02, 2020 | by Lisa Sanders

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

July 1, 2020, Washington, DC — Statement from Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO, LeadingAge, the association of nonprofit providers of aging services, including nursing homes.

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 the worst pandemic in a century—one that is threatening more lives every day, including millions of older Americans who are especially vulnerable. 

Enough is enough. As the Vice President flies off for another photo-op with the governor of Arizona, we are losing to this virulent virus. Rosy talk and symbolic gestures are not helping.

Where is the leadership? Where is the leader who cuts 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?

This week’s news demonstrates that real leadership is imperative—immediately:

  • 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.