As VP Pence Travels to South Carolina and Virus Surges Across Nation, LeadingAge Demands Leadership and Funding

PRESS RELEASE | July 21, 2020 | by Susan Donley

“This is a time for leadership, not denial and retreat”

Contact: Susan Donley
sdonley@leadingage.org, 202-508-1209

July 21, 2020 Washington, DC — As Vice President Mike Pence travels to South Carolina amid a coronavirus surge there and around the nation, the national association of nonprofit providers of aging services and its South Carolina affiliate called on Pence—leader of the White House Coronavirus Task Force—to refocus his efforts on federal leadership to defeat the pandemic.

“Things are getting worse instead of better for older adults and their care providers, and we’re back to square one in parts of South Carolina and across the country,” said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge. “We need wartime-level federal leadership, not attempts to back away from ensuring safety during the worst pandemic in a century. This is a time for leadership, not denial and retreat.”

Sloan also called out news reports this weekend that the administration is trying to block funding for states to step up COVID-19 testing and contact tracing as Congress returns to Washington to debate how to deal with the nationwide coronavirus surge.

“What kind of message is that to older adults who are so vulnerable to COVID-19 and their families? Vice President Pence and every Member of Congress need to reject the idea of unilaterally disarming our testing capacity when it is needed more than ever.

“It’s also past time for the Administration to invoke the Defense Production Act to get older adults life-saving supplies where they’re needed most, as we asked in a letter to Vice President Pence yesterday. Older lives are not expendable.”

“We need action now from state and federal leaders to fix the dangerous lack of life-saving personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing in South Carolina’s long-term care communities. We urge our elected leaders to deliver the tools and funding we need to help keep our communities safe from this infection as a result of this national pandemic,” added Vickie Moody, President of LeadingAge South Carolina.

To save lives, added Sloan, older adults and care providers need ample personal protective equipment; sufficient testing supplies and rapid-results; funding and support to cover the extraordinary costs incurred as a result of this public health crisis; and pandemic hero pay, paid sick leave and other benefits for front line staff who care for older adults.

“What our leaders do next will literally mean life or death for the most vulnerable among us. Don’t repeat the mistakes that are costing lives,” Sloan added.

AVAILABLE for interview -- contact Susan Donley sdonley@leadingage.org, to arrange:

LeadingAge president and CEO Katie Smith Sloan

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.