Time is running out for elected officials to help stop COVID-19 deaths in our nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

With only a short time until Congress’ August recess, it’s time to take meaningful action to save the lives of nursing home residents. Before lawmakers leave Capitol Hill, they must come together to pass a bipartisan COVID-19 response package that provides funding and protects long-term care residents with five key requirements:

  • Ensure regular, ongoing testing and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Create transparency focused on daily, public reporting of cases and deaths in facilities, communication with families when loved ones are discharged or transferred, and accountability for how billions of dollars in federal funding is spent.
  • Require access to facilitated virtual visitation.
  • Provide better care for residents through adequate staffing, oversight and access to in-person formal advocates, called long-term care ombudsmen.
  • Stop attempts to provide blanket immunity for long-term care facilities related to COVID-19.

The toll of COVID-19 on our nursing homes and long-term care facilities is nothing short of a tragedy and national disgrace. In North Carolina, more than half of coronavirus deaths are among nursing homes.

John F. Merrell III


The writer is AARP’s Triad advocacy coordinator.

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