Meng Urges Trump to Help Combat COVID-19 Deaths at Nursing Homes in NY

Apr 19, 2020
Press Release
Congresswoman sends letter to the President calling for increased testing, funding, data and other resources
QUEENS, NY – U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) announced today that she sent a letter to President Trump urging him to help combat the high numbers of deaths that are occurring at nursing homes in New York, particularly in Queens, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
Meng’s correspondence calls on the President to use any means possible to expeditiously manufacture COVID-19 tests, and prioritize them for New York so that local long term care facilities can conduct the testing that is needed. Meng also urged the President to increase coronavirus funding for nursing homes, and improve data on COVID-19 cases in these facilities to help contain and mitigate the spread of the virus. In addition, she called for replicating nationally the recent New York State requirement that long term care facilities inform family members of residents within 24 hours of any COVID-19 infections or deaths.
 
“The deaths at our nursing homes have been tragic and heartbreaking,” said Meng. “The elderly are among our most vulnerable populations. More must be done to protect them and we desperately need help from President Trump and his administration. I implore him to provide the resources that our long term care facilities need, and to do so immediately. I await his reply to my letter.”
 
New York is the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic and Queens has the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes.          
 
The text of Meng’s letter, which was sent yesterday, is below and a copy of the correspondence can be viewed here.
 
-----------------------------------
 
President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500  
 
Dear Mr. President:
 
I write to you because of the dire situation inside long term care facilities across the United States and especially in Queens, NY, where the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes have occurred. New York is the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic with over 224,000 confirmed cases, accounting for one-third of confirmed cases in the entire country. I thank you for making the arrangements to have the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center converted to treat COVID-19 patients and for deploying USNS Comfort and our servicemembers to our great city. As the hardest hit area, I implore you to use any means possible within your authority to expeditiously manufacture COVID-19 tests and prioritize New York in receiving these tests, which would help address the testing needs at our long term care facilities where the most vulnerable population resides. 
 
Long term care facilities have been struck with its own outbreak of unfortunate COVID-19 deaths as they operate beyond their normal capacity with insufficient staffing and PPE to protect health care personnel and residents. Furthermore, long term care facilities cannot test everyone who presents COVID-19 symptoms. These challenges compounded with insufficient testing capabilities have made it difficult to isolate suspected COVID-19 cases, consequently, making our fight against this highly contagious and invisible enemy even harder. 
 
New York State officials recently instituted a requirement for long term care facilities to inform family members of residents within 24 hours of any COVID-19 infections or deaths. I urge you to recommend this requirement nationally. Doing so would allow families to make the necessary preparations or arrangements so they may save their loved ones. Ultimately, I hope that our tragedy in Queens can be used to warn the entire nation of the importance in securing long term care facilities.
 
It is of utmost importance that we ensure future allocations of emergency funding are prioritized for long term care facilities. We also need sufficient impact data on COVID-19 cases in these facilities so that we may contain and mitigate the spread of this virus. Furthermore, limited COVID-19 testing has a devastating ripple effect that will certainly revert any containment attempts. Therefore, I ask you to increase our testing capabilities by using the Defense Production Act or any means possible within your authority, and prioritize nursing homes for tests as they become available before more of our elderly population succumbs to COVID-19 complications.  
 
Sincerely,
 
Grace Meng     
Member of Congress    
 
cc:  The Honorable Michael Pence, Vice President, Chair, White House Coronavirus Task Force
The Honorable Alex M. Azar, Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services