Shaheen, Hassan Press Coronavirus Task Force on Situation in Nursing Homes

March 17, 2020

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) are pressing the Coronavirus Task Force for answers on their preparedness and response plans to protect nursing home residents, workers and their families. With their colleagues, the Senators sent a letter to the Trump administration regarding the steps the administration is taking to protect the health and safety of these Americans.

In an effort to guard against the spread of the virus in nursing homes, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in an unprecedented move, directed states to suspend nearly all nursing home inspections and oversight unrelated to infection control or instances of abuse and neglect. One of the first known outbreaks of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) occurred in a Washington state nursing home, Life Care Center, which has accounted for more than 20 of the state’s coronavirus deaths.

In their letter, the Senators highlighted the increased risk seniors face from the coronavirus. “While the threat to most Americans being exposed to the virus is thought to remain low, early indications suggest that older adults, people with disabilities and other individuals with underlying health conditions are most at risk of mortality or other serious complications if infected with COVID-19… reaching as high as almost 15 percent among those ages 80 and older. Another study found severe pneumonia was more likely to occur among people ages 60 and older afflicted with COVID-19.”

The Senators continued by noting that, while the administration has diverted resources towards infection control in nursing homes and other health care facilities, it must also continue to carry out its normal responsibility of ensuring residents receive the highest quality care. “…The federal government must maintain its commitment to routine oversight concerning residents’ safety and care.”

The Senators’ concluded the letter by requesting information on steps that are being taken to protect nursing home residents, staff and their families.

The text of the letter can be read here.

Shaheen and Hassan have been sounding the alarm on the need for additional federal funding to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Following calls from Senators Shaheen and Hassan and others in Congress, on Friday President Trump declared a national emergency in response to the spread of Coronavirus. Shaheen and Hassan have called for the Senate to swiftly pass the bipartisan economic coronavirus response legislation that passed the House last Friday. Shaheen and Hassan also supported bipartisan government funding legislation to help states’ response efforts, which was recently signed into law. Last week, the CDC disbursed the $4.9 million funds for New Hampshire included in that funding package.