In The News
OP-ED: The Fight Isn't Over
Protecting our Seniors from COVID-19
Harrisburg, June 5, 2020
Tags: Coronavirus Update
The loss of any human life is tragic and sad – and in some cases, simply breathtaking. This week, our Nation is reeling from the senseless murder of George Floyd at the hands of several Minneapolis Police Officers. George Floyd and his family deserve justice - and all responsible for his murder must be held accountable.
As we take action to deliver justice to the Floyd family, we must not forget about the fight to protect our Senior neighbors. Our most vulnerable population is unnecessarily suffering and dying of COVID-19 in our nursing, personal care, and long-term care facilities.
Twenty-eight residents of the Spring Creek Rehab & Nursing Center in Dauphin County have died of COVID-19, according to the PA Department of Health (DOH) data released on June 2. In total, 193 residents and 31 employees tested positive at this facility. Across the river, 12 residents of The Gardens at West Shore have perished due to COVID-19, and 80 more were infected, with 56 dedicated staff testing positive. These are just two facilities in our community that are facing significant numbers of COVID-19 deaths and infections.
All told, according to the June 2nd data released by PA DOH, at least 4,500 residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities have died due to COVID-19. These outcomes were preventable
On May 14, I called for a federal investigation into the PA DOH guidance to nursing homes and long-term care facilities during COVID-19. Gov. Wolf’s misguided and dangerous policies continue to force nursing homes and long-term care facilities to admit residents and readmit individuals from hospitals, regardless of whether they’re confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19.
Despite cries from families, medical experts, and elected officials at all levels of government, Gov. Wolf introduced and continues to enforce ill-advised, illogical and deadly policies. As of June 2, at least 79 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Pennsylvania involve residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities, and this may not even be the full story. Gov. Wolf and his administration continue to lack transparency and honesty in the reporting of COVID-19 deaths at these facilities, making it hard for all Pennsylvanians to understand the full impact of COVID-19 on our Seniors. Instead of taking responsibility and changing course like Gov. Cuomo in New York, the intractable Wolf Administration stayed the course and even attempted to shift blame to the federal government.
During a May 21 press conference, PA Secretary of Health Rachel Levine falsely claimed that the guidance requiring these admissions and readmissions came from the federal government, specifically the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). I took these claims very seriously, and personally inquired with both federal agencies; bottom line – no such policy existed/exists. Never during the pandemic did the CDC or CMS advise state officials to require the admission and readmission of COVID-19 positive individuals into long-term care facilities. This was a policy designed and implemented solely by Governor Wolf.
For the safety of our most vulnerable populations, I once again implore Gov. Wolf to listen to federal guidance and medical experts and change the policies that literally are life or death for our Senior populations.
One of my highest priorities as your representative is to partner at all levels of government to protect our Seniors. I’ve supported the Federal Government’s response to the needs of Seniors and all Pennsylvanians during the outbreak of COVID-19. FEMA has sent supplemental shipments of personal protective equipment (PPE) to all 15,400 Medicaid and Medicare-certified nursing homes across the United States. More recently, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced $240 million in federal CARES Act funding for long-term care and nursing home facilities in Pennsylvania.
We’re in this fight to protect our Seniors and most at-risk populations together, but we need a cooperative partner in Gov. Wolf to listen to the needs of our Seniors and the cries of our medical experts to provide better protection to our facilities. It’s time for Pennsylvania to change course and fully protect our most at-risk population.
Undoubtedly, COVID-19 has challenged each of us. We’ve experienced tremendous loss, and, through it all, found the strength to fight back against this invisible enemy. We have all made personal sacrifices, challenged our beliefs and routines, and above all, cooperated with one another to overcome. But cooperation must not be a one-way street. We need Governor Wolf to humble himself like we’ve all done, set aside his intransigence and join us to protect our Seniors and loved ones.
York Daily Record - Scott Perry: Hold Gov. Wolf accountable for endangering nursing home residents in pandemic
Penn Live - The fight isn't over to Protect seniors from the coronavirus | U.S. Rep. Scott Perry