Trump's Nursing Home Negligence

He's now trying to sell 75,000 nursing home deaths as if that's a good thing

For more than three months, it has been widely reported that residents of U.S. nursing homes were at extremely high risk of being infected with—and dying from—COVID-19.

In fact, if “U.S. Nursing Homes” were a separate country, that country would rank third in the world for deaths related to the coronavirus, ahead of entire hard-hit countries, such as the U.K., Mexico, Italy, India, France and Spain.

According to the New York Times:

At least 59,000 residents and workers have died from the coronavirus at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities for older adults in the United States…. As of July 23, the virus has infected more than 335,000 people at some 15,000 facilities.

I wrote about this issue in April, stating at the time that: “In just 24 states, not including Florida, which did not provide data, the death toll from COVID-19 is already hundreds higher than the total death toll from Hurricane Katrina. But the official death toll doesn’t currently reflect most of these nursing home deaths because the government is not even keeping track.”

A few days after my April article, Rachel Maddow ran a segment (available on YouTube) reporting on the concerted national response Ireland was launching to save lives in nursing homes. At that time, Ireland had 486 coronavirus-related deaths, with 253 of those in nursing homes. That statistic was enough for the nation’s chief medical officer to announce massively increased funding and staffing for nursing homes—and a surge in testing designed to stamp out the outbreaks as quickly as possible. As Maddow said at the time: “We could do that too... focus there, to save the most lives.”

Spoiler alert: We didn’t.

Now it’s three months later, and Ireland has totally crushed the COVID-19 curve, with fewer than 1,800 deaths total nationwide.

Meanwhile in the US, 150,000 are dead with, according to Trump’s Twitter feed, up to half of those deaths occurring in nursing homes.

On Sunday, Trump retweeted (i.e. endorsed) a tweet by Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist, a right-wing site that Google threatened to ban last month “over content violations related to race.” The tweet in question (posted at the top of this page) links to an article by First Things, which, according to MediaBiasFactheck: “holds positions typical of the Christian right such as: Pro-life, and negative toward Islam. Most articles are sourced properly, however they sometimes use factually mixed sources such as Life Site News, which has an extreme right wing bias in opposition to gay marriage and abortion.”

The First Things article argues that it’s time to rethink “how our culture treats the elderly” and advocates for more funding for in-home care of the elderly (something supported both by the Democratic party and pro-life organizations).

The article also, however, begins with a now-standard GOP attack on “Democratic Governors” for how the COVID-19 pandemic played out in nursing homes:

In misguided attempts to save space in hospitals for younger people, a handful of Democratic governors—with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in the lead—sent elderly COVID-positive patients to nursing homes, creating wildfires of infection and death.

I come not to defend Cuomo. He’s a big boy and he can argue whether or not his decisions related to nursing homes were smart or not.

But it’s only fair to point out that this problem is national—and bipartisan.

According the latest New York Times data, as of July 23 the state where nursing homes represent the highest percentage of COVID-19 deaths is Republican-led New Hampshire (81%). And states with GOP Governors, including Texas (36%), Florida (44%), Ohio (55%), Iowa (57%), Massachusetts (63%), and North Dakota (64%) all have far higher percentages of nursing home deaths than New York where the figure is 20%.

It’s still true that New Jersey and New York are the states with the two highest death tolls among nursing home residents. The main reason for that is that both states were, as Dr. Fauci has explained, overwhelmed at the start of the pandemic with cases that “seeded” from Europe “before they really knew what was going on.” That was back in February, when Trump was telling us not to worry because he had “pretty much shut it down coming in from China.”

Trump protects statues, not people

As with most of the deaths in this pandemic, the deaths in nursing homes didn’t have to happen. And the tragedy is still ongoing.

Despite all the Republican attacks on Cuomo in New York, hospitals in Texas are now so overwhelmed they are transferring COVID-19 patients into nursing homes:

From the outset of the the pandemic, “pro-life” Republicans have argued that protecting the economy was more important than protecting the elderly.

Now, with the virus so out of control that it’s harder than ever for Trump to do anything meaningful to boost the economy, he is betting his re-election on the idea that voters would prefer to see a federal response that protects statues, not people.

Worse, he’s actively trying to numb us to the fact that tens of thousands of preventable nursing home deaths are somehow acceptable because America, unlike Ireland, now sees old people as disposable.


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