Will this Presidential Debate Finally Focus on Escalating COVID Threats to Older Americans?

PRESS RELEASE | October 20, 2020 | by Lisa Sanders

Debates have not yet addressed 80% of COVID-19 deaths among people over 65

Lisa Sanders

October 20, 2020, Washington, DC -- As COVID rates skyrocket around the country, flu season gets underway, and limited federal support for aging care providers winds down, a national aging services leader urged that the final presidential debate finally focus attention on the older Americans who have suffered 80% of deaths from the worst pandemic in a century.

The Commission on Presidential Debates has indicated that COVID-19 will be one of six topics the candidates will be asked to address. But while the pandemic has earned some attention in earlier debates and town halls, these discussions have not addressed the growing danger of COVID for 52 million older adults in the US, and those who care for them.


  • As it has for each debate, LeadingAge has proposed to the debate moderator three separate questions to ask the candidates about how they will address critical issues facing America’s older adults:
  • Aging services providers have struggled to obtain adequate personal protective equipment, testing, and workers. Their mounting costs are unsustainable, and some are beginning to close their doors. How will you ensure that older adults—in senior living settings like nursing homes, assisted living, retirement communities and affordable housing for older adults living on low incomes—are safe during the pandemic? 
  • The coronavirus pandemic has shown the strain that caregiving has on families across the country. How will you invest in services and supports to families, so older adults can stay in their own homes longer?
  • There is a severe lack of housing affordable for older adults with low incomes in the United States. Only 1 out of 3 older adults eligible for subsidized housing are able to obtain it. How will you address this crisis and invest in more affordable housing for older adults?

As LeadingAge’s recent Situation Report COVID-19 & Aging Services outlined:

  • 80% of all COVID deaths are among people 65+—a death rate at least 90 times higher than for 18-29 year olds. By early October, more than 156,000 people 65+ had died of COVID
  • More than 245,000 nursing home residents have been diagnosed with COVID, and 58,000 have died.
  • Because of COVID expenses, almost ¾ of nursing homes reported they will not be able to continue for another year at this rate—and 40% said that they would last less than six months.
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