Statement From LeadingAge: U.S. Policymaker Failure has Deadly Consequences

PRESS RELEASE | May 09, 2020 | by Lisa Sanders

Contact: Lisa Sanders


May 9, 2020 Washington DC – From Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, the association of nonprofit providers of aging services, including nursing homes, assisted living, and home health care:

“A new report in the New York Times says 1/3 of COVID-19 deaths are nursing home residents and their care workers.

Since the first days of the coronavirus crisis, government policymakers have failed to do their first job: protect the lives of our most vulnerable citizens.

Policymakers have failed to prioritize personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing for nursing homes and other care settings serving older Americans, who are paying a deadly price for this abdication of leadership.

Nursing homes, assisted living and other providers of services for older adults do not have adequate PPE and are scrounging for it on the open market. Now, many states ease restrictions on quarantine, these providers are now being forced to compete with nail salons and gyms. One nursing home in New Jersey has resorted to buying its PPE from someone they refer to as “Parking Lot Guy” because they don’t know his name or business. It should be no surprise that without sufficient protective equipment the virus is taking needless lives, but it should anger us all that policymakers have failed us. 

More fresh evidence of this abandonment of older Americans comes from a May 9, 2020 Washington Post story detailing how federal officials rejected opportunities to contract with makers of N95 masks that could be saving lives right now.

This has been a slow motion catastrophe that we know how to stop. We need leadership, commitment, and a focus on delivering PPE and testing to millions of vulnerable older Americans.

When nursing homes have the right tools, they can mitigate the spread of the virus.”

LINK: “In the Early Days of the Pandemic, the U.S. Government Turned Down an Offer to Manufacture Millions of N95 Masks in America,” May 9, 2020

LINK: One-Third of All U.S. Coronavirus Deaths are Nursing Home Residents or Workers, May 9, 2020

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.