President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced additional actions to protect nursing homes from the spread of the coronavirus.
“The China virus poses the greatest threat to our senior citizens,” Trump said, noting that about half of the coronavirus deaths occurred in nursing homes or long-term care facilities.
The president announced in a press conference at the White House that nursing homes remained at the highest risk of the spread of the virus and would continue to be his administration’s highest priority.
Trump said that the federal government would share more data with the states about high-risk nursing homes needing extra assistance.
“We have them surveyed and we have them mostly pinpointed,” he said.
Trump said that his administration had prioritized the protection of nursing homes since the pandemic began, but would continue to act to protect seniors.
He said his administration would distribute $5 billion in additional funding for nursing homes receiving funds from Medicare or Medicaid, and send about 15,000 rapid result testing systems to nursing homes in states experiencing flareups of the virus.
Trump said that nursing homes could use the funding to help residents connect with members of their families digitally.
“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,” Trump said. “We will get to the end of that tunnel very quickly we hope.”
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will also mandate testing of nursing home staff in states experiencing a high level of cases and the Department of Health and Human Services will provide weekly coronavirus data to states on high risk nursing homes.
Trump said he would continue to pursue a strategy that would protect seniors while allowing younger Americans to return to work and school.
“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.”