Critics Say Newsom’s Plan To Stem Coronavirus At Senior Care Facilities Is Inadequate

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By Amita Sharma, KPBS, April 13 2020

Signs in front of the Stellar Care senior living facility limiting guests dur...

Above: Signs in front of the Stellar Care senior living facility limiting guests during the COVID-19 pandemic, March 26, 2020.

Critics say Gov. Gavin Newsom’s efforts to protect people who live and work in California’s senior care facilities don’t go far enough.

As coronavirus outbreaks continue to kill the elderly inside California’s long-term care homes, Newsom announced Friday that the state is “prioritizing” testing for the virus for both residents and staff.

He also said the state has retrained 600 nurses to help nursing homes and assisted living communities handle COVID-19 cases.

“We’ve basically put more personnel, more technical assistance, focusing on infectious disease control and really doing what we can to decompress that entire system,” Newsom said.


While lawyer and nursing home advocate Mike Dark lauded that step, he said it’s still not clear whether the personnel will be on-site.

And that’s a crucial detail, he said.

“We have to have eyes on the ground in these facilities,” Dark said. “There are no longer visitors permitted at these facilities and they had been the safety net in these places for years.”

Without any outside on-site presence, Dark says it will be difficult to spot issues like proper infection control, understaffing and lack of protective gear.

Seniors are considered especially vulnerable to COVID-19 because of underlying illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. A USA Today analysis out today found that more than 3,000 residents have died at 2,300 long-term care homes in 37 states.

Listen to this story by Amita Sharma.

Aired 4/14/20 on KPBS News