Last night, on the eve of his inauguration as the 46th president of the United States, Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, along with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, honored all those who have died from COVID-19 at a service at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, which was lined with 400 lights, each representing 1,000 Americans who have died from the disease. 

“To heal, we must remember,” Biden said. “It’s hard sometimes to remember, but that’s how we heal. It’s important to do that as a nation.”

The president-elect has said that the pandemic will be a top priority of his administration. Last week, he released a 19-page, $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, noting that approximately 40% of U.S. COVID-related deaths have been among long-term care residents and workers.

The components of the plan hold potential, industry leaders say.

LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan said that it was “heartening to hear that the new administration acknowledges the severity of the pandemic and is focused on a national approach to the next phase of relief.”

Argentum President and CEO James Balda said that the organization was “pleased to see emphasis on improving the country’s vaccination plan, investing in better testing, and in protecting the country’s most vulnerable citizens.”

And American Seniors Housing Association President David Schless said, “We applaud President-elect Biden’s goal to accelerate the vaccine rollout with a focus on speed and access.”

Do concerns remain? Of course. Senior living operators, as you are all too aware, continue to need vaccine prioritization, testing and additional relief in the battle against COVID-19. As Sloan said of Biden’s plan, “The devil is in the details.” It needs to be more than words written on a piece of paper or spoken at a memorial service.

More than 24 million people in the United States now have contracted COVID, and more than 401,000 Americans have died from the disease. The healing can’t come fast enough.

Regardless of our political leanings, we all can agree that we’d like to see an end to the illness and death caused by the coronavirus. We’d like families and residents to be able to hug one another again. We’d like to stop having to wear PPE and stop having to stay six feet apart from each other.

The pandemic will run its course. It is my hope that under the new president, the healing will accelerate. I know you and the associations that represent you will be pushing for that, too.