nursing homes

Exec: White House Plan to Send Week's Worth of Masks, Gloves to Nursing Homes Not Enough

One industry exec said the 7 million masks FEMA is sending means only 7.7 for each staff member: "We need more from the federal government"

A patient is loaded into the back of an ambulance by medical personnel amid the coronavirus pandemic, Tuesday, April 28, 2020, outside NYU Langone Medical Center in New York.
AP Photo/John Minchillo

President Donald Trump said Thursday that nursing homes, which have been ravaged by coronavirus, had been "a little bit of a weak spot" in the U.S. response to the disease, and announced FEMA would ship a seven-day supply of gowns and masks to the nation's 15,000 long-term care facilities.

But nursing home residents have accounted for a quarter of the nation's 60,000 reported COVID-19 deaths, and for some industry leaders and advocates for residents, a week's supply of personal protective equipment is not an answer.

"This is the first sign in months that our calls for PPE prioritization for providers of aging services are being heard -- but this action is far too little, far too late," said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO LeadingAge, an association of 6,000 nonprofit providers of aging services, including 2,000 nursing homes.

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Sloan, who was standing in the room when the president made the announcement during a White House event for seniors, says the 7 million surgical masks FEMA is sending to nursing homes will provide only 7.7 masks for each nursing home staff member. "Nursing homes now need 20x more PPE than usual," she said. "We need more from the federal government."

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