This article discusses how residents of long-term care (LTC) facilities are more susceptible to COVID-19 and thus suppression should focus on testing and infection control at LTC facilities, while also being mindful of a state’s need to inspect LTC facilities more closely due to isolation of residents and increased vulnerability to abuse and neglect of residents due to lack of visitors.
Approximately 2.16 million adults live in long-term care facilities, cared for by 1.24 million staff. The risk of transmission of COVID-19 is especially high in LTC settings where older adults are particularly vulnerable to outbreaks of respiratory illness. Due to the risks, LTC care facilities have restricted visitors, which brings risks of isolation and abuse and neglect. The authors suggest the following:
- LTC residences should be priority sites for COVID-19 testing and personal protective equipment
- The staff at LTC facilities must have paid sick leave
- Enrollment barriers for Medicaid should be relaxed by the federal government to help LTC staff
- State officials must redouble inspections at LTC facilities
- CMS should consider relaxing certification and licensure requirements for health aides and nursing assistants
- State policymakers should give the green light for trainees at nursing schools to start working.