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Sam Wilson: Nursing homes need protection

Sam Wilson: Nursing homes need protection

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The toll of COVID-19 on our nursing homes and long-term care facilities is nothing short of a tragedy.

Here in Wisconsin, 16.6 percent of COVID-19 deaths are among nursing home residents and the number jumps to 43% when including assisted living facilities.

The experiences behind the statistics are gut wrenching. “Daniel” is a Wisconsin resident whose mom has severe dementia and is not able to communicate with anyone.

He’s not sure if his mom's facility is up to the task of dealing with this pandemic. He was told by the administrators there that two residents have died, and two others died after being removed from the facility, due to COVID-19 complications.

For four months, elected officials at all levels have known that nursing homes are a hotbed for the virus – yet basic precautions like adequate PPE to stem the loss of life and protect residents and staff are still lacking.

It’s clear that a broader national strategy is needed. Congress must act now to ensure regular testing and sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment for residents and staff, daily public reporting of COVID-19 cases and deaths, and options for families to visit virtually with their loved ones.

No one should face this struggle, and no state can combat this virus alone.

Families want elected leaders to take action now to protect residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Learn more at aarp.org/nursinghomes .

Sam Wilson, Madison

Sam Wilson is state director of AARP Wisconsin.

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