The Federal Emergency Management Agency is preparing to send personal protective equipment to nursing homes, which have struggled to obtain gear weeks into the pandemic as the death toll climbs.
A FEMA spokesperson told CNN the agency is preparing to coordinate shipments of equipment like surgical masks, gowns and gloves, to nursing homes across the nation.
The move comes weeks into the coronavirus response and targets facilities hardest hit by the pandemic. Nursing homes have been particularly vulnerable to coronavirus in part because of the slice of the population they serve: elderly residents who, data suggests, may be at higher risk of the illness.
Despite that risk, health care workers at nursing homes have faced shortages of protective gowns, among other supplies. CNN reported last week that nursing homes, where severe cases of the virus spread especially easily, have been getting more help in recent weeks, depending on the state, but are still facing a catastrophic situation.
Other help: As the country moves toward reopening, the Trump administration is planning to send a tranche of supplies to some nursing homes, including those in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, among other states, according to a source familiar with the plans.
FEMA’s distribution of equipment to nursing homes is expected to kick off around May 1, or early next week, according to the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, which represents more than 14,000 nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in the US.
“Obviously we wish that we’d had that same focus on them starting in February, but we haven’t, and there’s nothing we can do about it. We’re pleased that we have it now,” Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL, told reporters on a call Wednesday morning.
President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, recently teased an upcoming announcement on the initiative, saying in a Fox appearance that the administration “will be surging different PPE to nursing homes.”
“We’re working with a lot of the governors who recognize the disproportionate risk that the older and the more vulnerable have,” he added.