In Response to Nursing Home Coronavirus Outbreaks, Harder Slams Federal Response, Demands Faster Action

May 5, 2020
Press Release
At Least 1/3 of Coronavirus Deaths in CA Related to Nursing Home Outbreaks

Modesto, CA – After nearly 100 residents and workers tested positive for Coronavirus at a Turlock nursing home, Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) sent a letter to the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) slamming the agency’s response and demanding quicker action. On Thursday, CMS announced it would launch a commission to address the issue, but the panel isn’t even set to meet until the end of May. No timeline for results or subsequent actions has been announced.

“People in nursing homes in the Valley are sick and dying right now - we can’t wait a month for the feds to put together some show-panel. We need an actual plan and the resources to keep our loved ones safe right now.” said Rep. Harder. “This is another example of a federal agency slow-walking the response to this crisis – and now innocent older Americans are suffering.” 

California has reported that over 650 of the state’s estimated 2,100+ Coronavirus deaths have been related to nursing homes. However, this report only includes only confirmed deaths, meaning the real number could be much higher.

The text of the letter is below and an original version is available here.


Dear Administrator Verma,

The COVID-19 crisis has hit nursing homes and elder care facilities to a shocking and devastating degree. We have known since the early stages of the pandemic that age is a risk factor for complications from the coronavirus, and now those facilities are bearing the brunt of its effects. I write to ask that your agency take real action and provide real support to seniors and long-term care facilities immediately. I specifically have concerns that your recently-announced independent commission won’t meet for a month. This timeline is far too slow.

In response to COVID-19’s devastating effect on nursing homes, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has published memos and encouraged state authorities to focus more on the disease. That’s clearly not been enough. The proof is in the numbers.

As of April 28, half of the COVID-19 deaths in Stanislaus County in my district were a result of deaths from nursing homes. A single nursing home in my district has 94 confirmed cases among residents and staff. It’s clear that drastic and immediate action must be taken to ensure the safety of seniors in long-term care facilities.

Although you have made various recommendations, the speed at which you’ve provided guidance has been far too slow. According to your department’s own announcement, the independent commission you are forming isn’t set to meet until the end of May, and there is no timeline for enacting practicable solutions. The Trump Administration’s own estimates indicate the number of daily deaths will double and between today and the proposed date for convening your commission. If that estimate is accurate, older Americans – especially those in nursing homes – will continue to become sick and die at shocking, disproportionate rates.

It’s clear that drastic and immediate action must be taken to ensure the safety of seniors in long-term care facilities. Forming a commission is a fine idea, but it cannot wait to convene or make meaningful recommendations until the end of the month. Too many lives are on the line.