“I want to send a message of support and hope to every senior citizen who has been dealing with the struggle of isolation in what should be the golden years of your life,” the president said at a press briefing. “We will get to the other end of that tunnel very quickly, we hope. The light is starting to shine. We will get there very quickly. But we send our love; we send a message of love—very important. We’re with you all the way.”
Trump noted that the median age for people who die from COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, is 78 years old. He also noted that nearly half of the deaths have occurred among people who live in nursing homes or long-term care facilities, which equates to about half of the COVID-19 deaths occurring “among less than 1 percent of the U.S. population.”
“Think of that: less than 1 percent, half of the fatalities. So we know what to look for,” he reiterated.
The administration will require increased testing of nursing home personnel in states with the worst outbreaks, and is distributing 15,000 rapid, point-of-care diagnostic devices across the country to support the effort, Trump said.
Furthermore, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will distribute $5 billion to all nursing homes, sourced from the Provider Relief Fund, with nursing homes in higher-risk areas to receive more funding.
“This money can be used to address critical needs, including the hiring of additional staff, increasing testing, and providing technology support so [nursing home] residents can connect their families and they can connect to their families,” Trump said of the funds.
“They want to be with their loved ones. They can’t do it, so what we’re doing is we’re working it so that we can connect—have them connect with their families if they’re not able to visit,” he added.
The administration has also been identifying “especially high-risk nursing homes” and informing governors to help guide appropriate action, Trump said.
Besides this, other agencies, such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Public Health Service, are also prioritizing nursing homes facing the highest risk by providing enhanced technical assistance and support, and visits to the homes.
“CMS and CDC are implementing a national training program focused on infection control for those nursing homes that need it most. And we have them surveyed, and we have them mostly pinpointed,” Trump said.
The Trump administration over the past few months has created and employed a surveillance system to detect outbreaks in nursing homes, and 99 percent of all nursing homes have been directly reporting to the system.
“We have great data.When a nursing home has three or more cases, we alert the state and make sure that it responds very quickly. We check on it and make sure they respond very quickly,” Trump said.
The latest actions the president announced to help protect U.S. senior citizens come after the administration in March suspended all medically unnecessary visits to nursing homes in response to the CCP virus. Resources were also prioritized for nursing homes, Trump said, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sending protective equipment directly to 15,400 Medicaid- and Medicare-certified nursing homes across the United States.
Trump acknowledged that there has been a spike in infections throughout the country, in particular across the Sun Belt regions.
“We continue to vigorously combat the rise of cases in the South and Southwest and the West,” he said. “We’re closely monitoring and aggressively acting to control the infection in Texas, Arizona, California, Florida.”
He added that there may be “a number of causes” for the spike, and noted that cases began to rise among young Americans “shortly after demonstrations—which you know very well about—which presumably triggered a broader relaxation of mitigation efforts nationwide.”
Trump said another cause was the substantial increase in travel, which includes increased gatherings on various holidays such as Memorial Day, where young Americans closely congregated at bars, “maybe beaches,” and other locations.
“Our strategy is to shelter the highest-risk Americans, while allowing younger and healthier citizens to return to work or school while being careful and very vigilant,” Trump explained. “Wear a mask, socially distance, and repeatedly wash your hands … We want young Americans to avoid packed bars and other crowded indoor gatherings.”