April 17, 2020

Castro Urges Federal Officials To Track Coronavirus Cases at Nation’s Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care Facilities

WASHINGTON—Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Vice Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and member of the House Intelligence and Education and Labor Committees, joined 77 House Democrats in calling on Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma, urging them to work with states, localities, and private labs to immediately collect and publicly report data on the number of long-term care residents affected by COVID-19, including cases and fatalities:

“As we continue to fight COVID-19 in our communities, I’m joining my colleagues in the House to support and lead efforts that contain and mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in Texas and across our nation. But it’s vital that we do not ignore older Americans, individuals with disabilities, veterans, and all those living in nursing homes and long-term care facilities who desperately need our advocacy and protection. In Texas, 1 in 5 coronavirus deaths are related to nursing homes and long-term care facilities. That’s why I’m calling on HHS and CMS to collect all data on the number of residents affected by COVID-19 so that we can effectively address this crisis armed with the facts and protect our most vulnerable.”

Background:The only federal data currently available is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s March 30 estimate that at least 400 long-term care facilities have COVID-19 cases. All current information has come from journalists who are reporting at least 3,000 nursing home residents have died and that at least 2,300 facilities across over 37 states have cases. However, the actual numbers are likely far more dire. Before COVID-19, infections already caused as many as 3 million illnesses and almost 400,000 deaths in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities each year, making them a leading cause of morbidity and mortality among the 2.3 million long-term care facility residents in the United States. Approximately 75 percent of nursing homes have been cited for infection control deficiencies over the past three years alone. 

For a link to the full letter, click here.

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