With reports of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes pushing past 5,000, President Trump outlined new measures his administration is taking to protect the elderly population from the pandemic during an event honoring America's seniors at the White House on Thursday,
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"As we take steps to safely reopen our country, we must remain especially vigilant in sheltering the most vulnerable Americans", Trump said.
While there is no official tally from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the virus' overall impact in nursing homes in the United States, recently the New York Times reported that at least 7,000 seniors have died in senior facilities.
"That's a spot that we have to take care of," Trump said. "I guess you could call it a little bit of a weak spot because things are happening at the nursing homes and we're not happy about that."
Trump said the administration will impose a new rule requiring nursing homes to report new information about coronavirus cases directly to the CDC as well as nursing home residents and their family members. It also requires testing data from nursing homes to be posted publicly online.
Additionally, the president announced that FEMA will send supplemental shipments of personal protective equipment to all 15,400 Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing homes across the country. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will also provide states with $81 million from the CARES Act in order to increase nursing home inspections.
"Our cherished seniors enrich every aspect of our national life," Trump said. "No effort will be spared to give America’s seniors the care and support and devotion and love they have earned and that they have deserved.”
In order to prepare nursing homes for future coronavirus outbreaks, the administration has established the Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes, which will be made up of doctors, scientists, resident and patient advocates, family members, infection and prevention control specialists and state and local authorities.
“My administration will never waver in its relentless commitment to America’s seniors," Trump said. "We owe them a sacred and unbreakable obligation, and we will fulfill that obligation with every resource and power that we have.”
The commission will meet in May to issue recommendations that the nursing homes can take to protect the most vulnerable population from the pandemic.
Real estate investment trusts that primarily focus on assisted living communities, including Omega Healthcare Partners, Welltower, and Ventas, have taken a severe hit during the pandemic, and could be in for a bumpy ride with the increased attention on nursing homes from the Trump administration.
In the last three months, Omega Healthcare Partners shares have fallen 30 percent, Welltower more than 40 percent, and Ventas has dropped roughly 44 percent.
There are more than 1 million cofirmed cases of coronavirus and more than 62,000 deaths in the United States, according to the latest update from Johns Hopkins University.