We continue to fail to protect the elderly in nursing homes from COVID-19
I couldn’t agree more with Bob Gallo of AARP Illinois, who wrote in the Sun-Times last week that our elected leaders must do more now to protect nursing home residents and their staff against COVID-19. There should be a stronger effort everywhere to support skilled nursing facilities.
While measures to combat COVID have been in place since the beginning of the pandemic, all the masks, gloves and disinfectant in the world can do only so much given the great danger in congregate settings — community spread.
Consider the example of Major League Baseball. The league has attempted an elaborate reopening experiment. But extensive infection control procedures, daily rapid testing and strict physical distancing have not prevented an outbreak of COVID-19 among players.
Professional athletes — young men in pristine health — could not be protected despite limitless resources. How can we expect that nursing homes would be any different? The answer is, we can’t.
As studies by Harvard and University of Chicago researchers have shown, COVID-19 gains a foothold in nursing homes whenever the virus is rampant in the surrounding community. At the end of the day, even when the strictest infection control measures are put in place, nursing homes are congregate settings and home to the most vulnerable members of our society.
Now more than ever, we call on elected leaders and society in general to put a greater priority on the safety of the elderly and their caretakers. As Gallo wrote, it is truly a matter of life or death. Pat Comstock, Health Care Council of Illinois, director of COVID-19 Response