The U.S. Defense, Health and Human Services, and Veterans Affairs secretaries, along with other federal government agencies and officials, will work together to provide targeted surge assistance to assisted living communities and other long-term care facilities under President Joe Biden’s new “National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness.”
It’s one of several provisions in the strategy, released Thursday, Biden’s first full day in office, that senior living industry groups are cautiously cheering.
“While there are still logistical questions to be answered, we remain hopeful this means communities will begin to see increased resources and support for testing, treatments, PPE, and staffing,” Argentum President and CEO James Balda said. “This support, along with added financial relief, is critically needed still nearly a year into the pandemic. Older adults and those who care for them need to remain prioritized, both operationally and in upcoming relief legislation.”
Balda said that Argentum appreciates other aspects of the plan as well.
“Specifically, we are pleased to see emphasis on improving the country’s vaccination plan and the proposed expansion of the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program,” he said. “With that expansion, however, it is imperative that those in senior congregate care settings continue to be prioritized. This includes both seniors — regardless of care level — and those caring for them, in order to maximize vaccine effectiveness.”
LeadingAge also said it welcomed the new administration’s immediate efforts to prioritize COVID-19 and called for a specific emphasis on older adults and their care providers, whom they said have been the most negatively affected by the coronavirus.
“This virus has raged out of control for nearly a year while our community has desperately called for help. So to have the new administration lay out plans on Day One to put COVID at the top of its agenda is welcome and hopeful news,” LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan said.
LeadingAge, she added, hopes that the plan “means the cavalry is coming, especially on testing and vaccine initiatives.”
Sloan also said that the plan’s proposal to provide 100,000 COVID-19 contact tracers, community health workers and public health nurses focused on pandemic response “is a welcome step in the right direction.”
“We look forward to working with the administration and Congress to ensure that the government prioritizes and addresses the needs of millions of older Americans who account for the vast majority of coronavirus deaths — and on a broader agenda to build a new beginning for older Americans,” she said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said that Democrats will be prepared to act on Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus package in the first week of February.