Reps. Gallego, Grijalva, Kirkpatrick, and Stanton Urge Every Nursing Home in Arizona to Voluntarily Release COVID-19 Data
PHOENIX, AZ – Today, Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), joined by Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-02), and Greg Stanton (AZ-09), sent a letter urging Arizona nursing homes to voluntarily release their COVID-19 data in light of Governor Ducey’s refusal to release the names of nursing homes where residents and staff have been killed or fallen ill from COVID-19.
Governor Ducey has argued that, among other things, releasing the names of nursing homes with COVID-19 outbreaks would hurt business. The Representatives’ letter was sent to every nursing home in Arizona to ask them to follow the example of Glencroft Center for Modern Aging in Glendale, Arizona, which announced earlier this month it would release the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases and deaths each day.
“Glencroft’s actions will ensure that public health experts, elected officials, loved ones, and the general public know the extent of the spread of COVID-19 at its facility while also protecting the personally identifiable information of its staff and residents,” they wrote. “We similarly urge your nursing home to release the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths among both your residents and staff since the pandemic began.”
The letter acknowledges the unique challenges facing nursing homes and long-term care facilities during this pandemic, but argues that transparency is necessary to know the extent of the problem.
“Nursing homes have had to manage a systemic staffing shortage since even before the crisis began, but now a nationwide lack of personal protective equipment and testing kits has compounded management challenges and made this virus difficult to contain in nursing homes. COVID-19 can easily spread in congregate settings and is particularly dangerous for the older adults and individuals with underlying medical conditions who live in facilities like yours,” the letter says. “While it is clear that much more needs to be done to protect residents and staff at long-term care facilities, we also need to know the extent of the problem to make informed decisions.”
The Trump Administration has said it will implement a rule that would require nursing homes to report COVID-19 cases every week dating back to May 8, but the Members urged Arizona nursing homes to voluntarily report their data since the pandemic began in order to help better understand trends in infection location and spread and to identify what additional support might be necessary to prevent transmission at these facilities.
The full letter can be found here.