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Two associations representing older Americans and their caregivers say coordinating the response to the COVID-19 pandemic will provide a broader understanding of the virus’ full effects in senior living and other settings.

Argentum and the Alzheimer’s Association called on state and federal policymakers to provide transparency in COVID-19 reporting, as well as a prioritization of resources, to protect older adults and safeguard professionals caring for them in assisted living and memory care communities.

Although providers are reporting data to state agencies, families, staff members and residents, discrepancies exist in how those data are being shared by states. Argentum pointed out, for instance, that reporting the number of recoveries from COVID-19, along with positive cases and fatalities among residents and staff, will “provide a broader understanding of COVID-19’s full impact across the senior living industry.”

“We are seeing discrepancies in how and which states across the country are publicly reporting data, and we are asking the states to offer full transparency,” Argentum President and CEO James Balda said in a statement. “Not only is it important to maintaining trust and integrity, it’s also the right thing to do.”

Citing challenges of inaccurate reporting, as well as the inability to access necessary testing and resources, the Alzheimer’s Association issued policy recommendations on Monday in an effort to improve the state and federal response to COVID-19 in long-term care settings. 

“Our nation has not done enough to support these communities,” the Alzheimer’s Association stated in a news release. The association’s policy recommendations address providing enhanced testing, implementing necessary reporting, developing protocols to respond to an increase in cases, and ensuring that all communities have the necessary equipment, including personal protective equipment.

“It is essential that as a nation we provide the same necessary response and resources provided for hospitals and for acute-care settings for those in long-term care,” Harry Johns, Alzheimer’s Association president and CEO, said in a statement. “Implementing these policy proposals will protect this vulnerable population, more quickly reunite them with family members, and safeguard the professionals dedicated to caring for them every day.”

Argentum previously shared guidance on reporting and leadership communication and on Friday sent a call to action asking leaders in Congress to prioritize the senior living industry for COVID-19 relief funds.

In other coronavirus-related news:

  • Florida is creating a statewide network of COVID-19-designated facilities to house assisted living, nursing home and other long-term care residents recovering from the virus.
  • Some Pennsylvania counties are pushing to exclude assisted living and nursing home COVID-19 cases from the state’s reopening formula, but experts are cautioning against it.
  • In testimony before the Pennsylvania House Aging & Adult Services Committee, Deborah Brodine, president of UPMC Senior Service, UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital and the Behavior Health Services Network of UPMC, called on state leaders to support long-term care providers in fighting COVID-19.
  • The New York attorney general is looking into allegations that the Queens Adult Care Center failed to protect residents from the deadly coronavirus and misled families about its spread. Three residents of the facility filed a lawsuit over similar allegations. 
  • The leaders of Chelsea Senior Living, which operates 21 assisted living communities in New Jersey and New York, said that governmental agencies continue to lump assisted living communities in with nursing homes, making the long-term care industry a “whipping boy” and a scapegoat for a lack of government inaction early in the pandemic.
  • The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment has abandoned virtual meetings and shifted to in-person compliance checks at senior living communities and nursing homes after coronavirus cases increased.
  • In an opinion piece published online, CareOne Executive Vice President Lizzy Straus called on journalists in the lay media to do a better job in explaining the challenges faced by assisting living communities and nursing homes when it comes to COVID-19.
  • In the early period of the global coronavirus pandemic, healthcare fields shed nearly 1.5 million jobs, losing all the gains of the past five years in the span of two months. Hospitals and residential care facilities experienced smaller losses, but the pandemic will create lasting financial pain across a continuum of providers, Altarum says. 
  • The Eldercare Workforce Alliance, a coalition of 35 national organizations addressing the workforce crisis in caring for older adults, proposed practical solutions to strengthen this “largely invisible” workforce and improve quality of care in a recent letter to leaders of House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees. Among EWA’s members are AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine and LeadingAge.