The federal government is directing nursing homes to bar visitors amid the coronavirus epidemic, President Donald Trump said in his March 13 press conference.
A key tactic is “breaking chains of transmission between people,” Trump said in his Rose Garden speech amid a bevy of business leaders in the retail and medical sectors. “We’ve issued a requirement suspending all medically unnecessary visits to various places but in particular nursing homes,” he said, adding:
The risks to young and healthy Americans remain very low. So we’ve learned a lot about this over the last two weeks. Anyone can be a carrier for the virus and risk transmission to older Americans and those with underlying health conditions, and those who are most at risk. They have not done very well. … Especially if they have a health problem, they have not done well. We must take all precautions and be responsible.
“As you get older, your immune system is not as potent as it is when you were young,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the press event. He continued:
When you talk about even influenza — which we have extraordinary experience with over decades and decades — the people who are very vulnerable are the elderly and those with underlying conditions. The same thing holds true for a variety of other disease: Why cancer is more prevalent mostly in older individuals [is] because the immune system that screens for it is less robust. So it really is something that is kind of well-known over a lot of studies.
Data from China reportedly shows very low death rates from people younger than 50. But the death rates among people older than 70 hit 9.8 percent, while the people older than 80 suffered an 18 percent death rate, or almost one-in-five. Roughly 30 million Americans are older than 70.
Business Insider reported March 11:
Before the coronavirus hit the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington, 120 seniors lived there. Now there are fewer than 50.
The long-term care facility, about 20 minutes north of Seattle, has been battling a coronavirus outbreak for weeks. Since the outbreak started, 26 of the center’s residents have died, 13 of whom were confirmed to have COVID-19, the disease the coronavirus causes. Some others who died have not yet been tested.
The deaths came at the very start of the epidemic when there was no shortage of hospital resources.