Like almost every other state in the union, a large percentage of COVID-19 deaths in Pennsylvania have happened inside nursing homes. That number for the commonwealth is nearly 70 percent. And the figure becomes an even greater outrage when you consider the fact that the Pennsylvania Health Secretary’s own mother was transferred from an elder care facility as the bodies piled up. We cannot blame government officials for wanting to get their loved ones out of such a deadly environment, but we can blame them for creating the deadly environment in the first place. Pennsylvania mandated that nursing homes admit COVID-positive people. The Health Secretary’s mother was moved out while COVID patients were moved in – the most macabre form of insider trading that one can imagine.
As I have written about before, nursing homes are the story of this pandemic. Half of all coronavirus deaths in Europe are linked to them. In our country, most states are reporting nursing home deaths at 40 or 50 percent of their overall fatality rate. For some states – Minnesota, for example – almost 80 percent of all coronavirus deaths have so far occurred in nursing homes. And it’s not just that state officials didn’t do enough to protect these vulnerable populations. Rather, they actively endangered the most vulnerable. New Jersey, California, and New York all also mandated that nursing homes take in elderly people known to have the infection. New York even prohibited nursing homes from testing patients before they were admitted, and refused to provide protective gear to staff (“not our job,” the governor said).
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