May 1 2020
07:22 am

In late February or early March, most of us first heard about the coming coronavirus pandemic from the devastating reports from a long term care facility in King County, Washington State. One hundred and twenty nine residents, staff members, and visitors were diagnosed with covid-19. 40 deaths resulted from this outbreak.

In figures updated April 1, the Kings County, WA, said 2,496 people had tested positive for covid-19 in total and that 164 people had died due to covid-19.

Today there are approximately 1.1 million confirmed coronaviros cases in the U.S. and 63,746 deaths. Approximately 75% of those deaths are people 65 years of age and older. Approximately 30% of the older age group are 85 years of age or older, based on limited data.

On April 10, 2020, NBC News reported, Nearly 2,500 long-term care facilities in 36 states are battling coronavirus cases, according to data gathered by NBC News from state agencies, an explosive increase of 522 percent compared to a federal tally just 10 days ago.

Twenty-four states reported a total 2,246 COVID-19 deaths associated with long-term care facilities.

However, at least 9 states, including Tennessee (and Florida), did not release any data for the NBC report. and twenty-six state did not release data on deaths associated with long-term care facilities.

According to a Washington Post article dated April 29, 2020, The federal government has not released a count of fatalities at nursing homes, but in New York and New Jersey alone, more than 5,000 people at such facilities have died.

Everyone knew there was a high risk to the elderly and specifically elderly in long-term care facilities.
What was done? Nothing.

On April 27, 2020, it is being reported that "2 residents have died and 58 tested positive for COVID-19 at Life Care Center of Athens, TN." Just a note, this is the same company where the pandemic was widely reported early on (Feb./March, 2020) in Washington State.

Two months (60 days) after the onset of the pandemic, Gov. Lee from Tennessee is just now getting around to attempting to direct testing for residents in long-term care facilities.

TV station WBIR reported on April 29, 2020, Governor Bill Lee announced Wednesday the state will be increasing COVID-19 testing and work with assisted living facilities in Tennessee to ensure more than 70,000 of Tennessee's most vulnerable residents are tested out of precaution... The governor said they've already begun working with the National HealthCare Corporation to test its residents and staff, which runs more than 30 care centers in Knoxville, Farragut, Oak Ridge, Athens, and across the state.

Lee said the discussion began hours before his Wednesday briefing, saying starting next week the state will progressively begin contacting each of the more than 700 facilities in Tennessee to coordinate testing supplies, PPE and staffing to make it happen.

He's pushing the facilities owners of 30 senior care centers to test, 60 days later. Next week his administration will be contacting the remaining 670 facilities. Say what?!?!?

Oh, and one other thing. You can go to to compare Medicare's ratings of nursing homes/long-term care facilities. NHC (National Healthcare Corporation) has three facilities in the Knoxville area. One of the three facilities gets a 2 out of 5 star health inspection rating. One of the other three facilities gets a 1 out of 5 star health inspection rating. Both of the 2 of 3 facilities get a 2 out of 5 star overall rating.

bizgrrl's picture

In a Wall St. Journal article

In a Wall St. Journal article dated April 22, 2020, the headlines read, "Coronavirus Deaths in U.S. Nursing, Long-Term Care Facilities Top 10,000."

I don't subscribe to the WSJ so I cannot read the entire article.

Midori Barstow's picture

Trump Announces Panel To Look

Trump Announces Panel To Look At Nursing Home Responses To Coronavirus Outbreak; signs a proclamation for Older Americans Month


Reaction to White House Nursing Home Event


Statement from Katie Smith Sloan
, president and CEO, LeadingAge, the association of nonprofit providers of aging services, in response to today’s “Protecting America’s Seniors” White House event:

In today’s remarks on ‘Protecting America’s Seniors,’ the President claimed that ‘We’re taking very special care of our nursing homes and our seniors.’ This is false. The time for talk, symbolism, and proclamations has passed. It's time for action from the White House and Congress.

For weeks and weeks, vulnerable older adults have been living in fear as infections and death tolls climbed, not knowing whether the equipment, testing, and support they need to protect their lives would arrive in time.

Today’s announcements fell far short of what's needed to protect the most vulnerable Americans from the coronavirus.

For the millions of other older Americans being cared for outside of nursing homes—in assisted living, HUD-assisted housing for low-income older adults, life plan communities, hospices, and in our homes and communities—the government offered practically nothing today. Nothing.

Older adults in federally-assisted housing have not been mentioned. We continue to await guidance and assistance to ensure that the 1.6 million older adults living in HUD-assisted housing older adults have the support they need to stay healthy and safe.

As economies open up, there has been no prioritization announced for older adults—who must now compete with nail salons and gyms for life-protecting supplies on the open market.

There is still no sign that testing for older adults will be given the same priority as hospitals so that asymptomatic people aren’t infecting one another and spreading the virus where it is most deadly.

FEMA’s two, one-week supplies of PPE distribution are wholly insufficient. Further, they will go only to nursing homes, leaving out millions of vulnerable older adults who are cared for elsewhere.

The only way to avert this slow-motion catastrophe is to provide meaningful amounts of PPE, as well as effective and efficient testing and a comprehensive approach to supporting older adults and the workers who care for them.

We are always ready to work with CMS and others to examine what we can do better. From the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, we have been regularly talking with top CMS officials. But we need to DO what we can better. We need PPE and testing now.

We need more than a post-war-type commission to examine a tragic battle—because the nation’s nursing home and aging services providers are still on the front line fighting—and it feels like we are fighting alone.


Pretending a symbolic one-week supply of PPE for select nursing homes is a meaningful solution is an insult to millions of vulnerable Americans, their families, and their caregivers.

Life-saving equipment that was promised weeks ago has been further delayed, leaving caregivers to keep fighting and scrounging for every mask and gown they can muster. Some have resorted to wearing trash bags to protect themselves and those they care for.

The suggested amounts appear symbolic: the COVID-19 crisis requires 20 times more PPE than usual, but FEMA has told states that nursing homes in selected communities will receive fewer than 8 masks per staff member.


I could not be more pleased that the vulnerable veterans in VA homes are faring well—because the right supplies and testing were available to help protect them from the coronavirus.

But it’s astonishing and insulting to hear that millions of older Americans at other nursing homes will have to make do with token supplies, a few iPads, and a proclamation—and a new commission.

And for the millions of other older Americans being cared for outside nursing homes—in assisted living, HUD-assisted communities for adults living on low- incomes, life plan communities, hospices, and in our homes and communities—the government offered nothing today. Nothing.


There is no comprehensive support for aging services providers across the continuum of care. There is no action or movement on a $100 billion emergency relief fund for aging services providers, or the Heroes Fund legislation providing resources for workers on the front line.

About LeadingAge:

We represent more than 5,000 aging-focused organizations that touch millions of lives every day. Alongside our members and 38 state partners, we address critical issues by blending applied research, advocacy, education, and community-building.

We bring together the most inventive minds in our field to support older adults as they age wherever they call home.

We make America a better place to grow old. For more information: (link...)

bizgrrl's picture

Many thanks to Katie Smith

Many thanks to Katie Smith Sloan fot telling the truth.

Treehouse's picture


Dogs get better treatment than our seniors, immigrants, poor, and prisoners. This is outrageous and I feel helpless. Thanks for calling attention to this. I wish more people cared and there was a way to make things better. Good grief.

bizgrrl's picture

Are they testing more people

Are they testing more people at prison facilities than at senior living facilities?

There is a state correctional facility in the county and prison COVID-19 cases have been mushrooming with 1,224 inmates and 22 staff members testing positive.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said during his daily coronavirus briefing the large increase resulted from mass testing at the prison where 54% of the inmate population has tested positive and 12% percent of the staff.

If 1,224 inmates tested positive and they say that 54% of the population tested positive, then does that mean they tested over 2,000 prison residents just at this one facility?

Wonder how many of the 70,000 senior living facility residents have been tested.

Midori Barstow's picture

Here’s How We Can Deal With

Here’s How We Can Deal With COVID-19 In Nursing Homes Right Away


The pandemic’s heavy toll on nursing homes is not surprising. Residents are elderly, have significant physical or mental limitations, suffer from serious chronic conditions ― or some combination of the three.

That makes them especially susceptible to severe, potentially lethal effects of the novel coronavirus.

Residents also require at least some assistance with daily life functions, including feeding, bathing and toileting, and they are typically in relatively close quarters.

Infectious disease spreads easily in those environments.
All of this makes it easy to think nothing could have been done to reduce the level of suffering and that nothing can be done now.

Both of those assumptions are wrong.
The biggest problems at nursing homes include three clearly identifiable deficiencies: not enough testing,
not enough protective gear, and not enough workers.

Fixing these would not put a stop to nursing home COVID-19 deaths. But it would almost certainly reduce them and,
along the way, it would make an increasingly miserable experience for residents and workers a lot more tolerable.

A handful of states are already taking such action.
Prominent among them is Maryland, where nursing homes have accounted for roughly half of all state deaths and where the administration of Larry Hogan, the Republican governor, has responded with a series of initiatives to help facilities as soon as possible.

But states can do only so much on their own.

What nursing homes really need is more federal intervention along with more federal money.

And they need these things right away.

bizgrrl's picture

The biggest problems at

The biggest problems at nursing homes include three clearly identifiable deficiencies: not enough testing,
not enough protective gear, and not enough workers.

Exactly. Although, the not enough workers issue was ongoing before the pandemic.

Midori Barstow's picture

Calls to mind B.Franklin's

Calls to mind
B.Franklin's proverb:

“For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,
For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For the want of a horse the rider was lost,
For the want of a rider the battle was lost,
For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost,

And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail.”

It is critical for everyone to do their part
because as geriatrician Dr James said
every day that we delay the number of cases
the more we will increase better outcomes.

While many of us understand the benefit of protecting each other, there are some who take joyrides on our health.

Discouraging to see the photo of Rep Burchett and
Mayor Jacobs not doing their simple easy part.
Notice the server behind the bar was!

michael kaplan's picture

Seniors are dying from the

Seniors are dying from the coronavirus, does anyone care?

The answer is no, not really.

"Society's distress is the goal of the (capitalist) economic system." - Karl Marx, 1844.

He footnotes Adam Smith, from The Wealth of Nations, Volume One.

fischbobber's picture

Here's a government officials take.


Of course, he's from California and you know how those people are. He couldn't figure out what the big deal was.

Midori Barstow's picture

If we accept the idea that some of us matter more than others...

From Heather Cox Richardson/Letters from an American

This man was removed from office, but his sentiments are not isolated.

It is impossible to overlook that the people demanding states ease restrictions are overwhelmingly white, when both African Americans and Native Americans are badly susceptible to Covid-19.

In Chicago, for example, 32% of the population is African American; 67% of the dead have been black.
Further south, the Navajo Nation is behind only New York and New Jersey for the highest infection rate in the US.

White supremacists are celebrating these deaths, and calling for their supporters to infect minorities with the virus.

But even those who insist they simply want society to open up again are demanding policies that will disproportionately kill some Americans at higher rates than others.

Some are overt about their hatreds—like the Illinois woman who carried a sign with the motto from Auschwitz and the initials of the Jewish governor—and others simply sacrifice minorities in the course of business, as Trump did when he used the Defense Production Act to keep infected meat processing plants operating, plants overwhelmingly staffed by black and brown people.

If we accept the idea that some of us matter more than others, we have given up the whole game.

This country was—imperfectly, haltingly—formed on the principle that we are all created equal, and equally entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

If we are willing to admit that our founders were wrong, that we are not equal, that older Americans, Black Americans, Brown Americans, sick Americans, all matter less than healthy white Americans, we have admitted the principle that we are not all created equal, and that some of us are better than others.

This is, of course, the principle of white supremacy, but it does no favors to most white people, either.

Once we have abandoned the principle of equality, any one of us is a potential sacrifice.

And then it will not matter anymore what our political narrative is,
for it will be as much as our lives are worth to disagree with whatever our leaders say.

Midori Barstow's picture

The pandemic exposed a

The pandemic exposed a painful truth: America doesn’t care about old people
We speak of the elderly as expendable, then fail to protect them.


Mike Knapp's picture

Great piece by David Wallace-Wells

COVID-19 Targets the Elderly. Why Don’t Our Prevention Efforts?

In the U.S., over the last few months, this age skew has become almost exclusively a talking point of the COVID-skeptical right. On March 24, Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick suggested that plenty of grandparents would happily die to preserve the health of the American economy for the children and grandchildren, later doubling down on the point to suggest “there are more important things than living.” The radio host Ben Shapiro, who once raged against Obamacare’s “death panels,” said, “If grandma dies in a nursing home at age 81, that’s tragic and that’s terrible, also the life expectancy in the United States is 80” — ignoring or overlooking the fact that the life expectancy of someone who is today 80 is about an additional decade. And perhaps most egregiously, there was the Twitter thread, last week, from conservative writer Bethany Mandel. “You can call me Grandma Killer,” she wrote. “I’m not sacrificing my home, food on the table, all of our docs and dentists, every form of pleasure (museums, zoos, restaurants), all my kids’ teachers in order to make other people comfortable. If you want to stay locked down, do. I’m not.”

bizgrrl's picture

Since the April 27, 2020,

bizgrrl's picture

According to a New York Times

According to a New York Times database analysis, One-Third of All U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Are Nursing Home Residents or Workers

At least 28,100 residents and workers have died from the coronavirus at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities for older adults in the United States, according to a New York Times database.

The virus so far has infected more than 153,000 at some 7,700 facilities.

Note, Tennessee is on of 20 states that is reporting comprehensive aggregate data for long-term care facilities coronavirus cases and deaths.

bizgrrl's picture

Three months after the onset

Three months after the onset of the pandemic, Gov. Bill Lee’s administration announced Friday that long-term care facilities will soon be required to test all of their residents and staff for COVID-19 after initially just urging nursing homes to do so."

"After June, nursing homes must conduct testing on staff at least once a week. Staff members will be exempted if they have a positive FDA-approved COVID-19 antibody test."

I thought the antibody test was unreliable.

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