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5 New National Policies Aimed at Curbing COVID-19

By Kara LewisFebruary 5, 2021
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The coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately affected seniors, with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reporting that adults 65 and older are five times more likely than the general population to be hospitalized with the virus. This threat has disrupted daily life for older adults, and complicated big decisions — like if and when to move into senior living. While most communities are accepting new residents, a third of caregivers say widespread vaccine availability would increase their willingness to move older family members to senior living, according to A Place for Mom survey.

When it comes to combating COVID-19, a new year and new presidential administration ushers in many policy changes. On his first day in office, President Joe Biden signed 10 executive orders related to COVID-19, including policies focused on testing, vaccine distribution, data collection, and more. Five of these executive orders — which have already gone into effect — could have a strong impact on seniors.  Read on to learn about President Biden’s coronavirus response and what it means for older adults.

1. Promote health equity and serve high-risk populations

The executive order “Ensuring an Equitable Pandemic Response and Recovery” focuses on several at-risk groups, including frontline workers, people with chronic health conditions, people with disabilities, and adults 65 and older. This executive order established a COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, a group of experts who will research and strive to lessen health disparities between these communities and the general population.

Another high-risk group that this executive order aims to better serve are those living in “congregate settings,” including long-term care communities. The CDC aims to update and strengthen guidance for assisted living communitiesmemory care facilitiesnursing homes, and other senior care communities, as well as work with state governments to update local recommended precautions.

One focus in updating this guidance is making sure that long-term care communities employ an adequate amount of health care workers and other staff to support residents. Another goal involves continuing strong efforts to vaccinate senior living residents, including those without access to health insurance, making older adults among the first citizens in the U.S. to get the vaccine.

2. Increase supplies and distribution

The new administration has set an aggressive goal of 150 million vaccinations in the first 100 days. To achieve this goal, states have recently opened eligibility beyond health care workers and residents in long-term care communities, expanding vaccine outreach to include anyone 65 and older. Additionally, states will extend eligibility to first responders, educators, and grocery store employees, likely forming a safer community overall for seniors.

Health workers will also begin distributing vaccines at easily accessible sites, such as stadiums and conference centers. To reach different populations, the current administration hopes to offer more vaccinations at VA and rural hospitals, as well as at mobile and pop-up clinics. The White House will launch a new, nationwide partnership with Federally Qualified Health Centers, clinics that provide primary care to underserved populations.

The administration also aims to build upon the existing CDC Pharmacy Partnership for LongTerm Care (LTC) Program, which streamlines vaccine accessibility by partnering with both chain and independent pharmacies. According to the CDC, 90% of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy, making them integral to vaccinating the overall population.

3. Expand COVID-19 testing

Even as vaccine distribution ramps up, testing continues to play a key role in preventing the spread of coronavirus. According to the White House’s COVID-19 strategy report, the administration will increase laboratory capacity for processing tests, focus on creating efficient rapid tests, and manufacture a greater number of tests.

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4. Share and update COVID-19 data

Maintaining accurate data on COVID-19 and the vaccination process can reduce panic, help seniors protect themselves, and increase vaccine confidence. White House officials plan to release a regular report detailing cases, contract tracing, testing, vaccinations, and hospitalizations. The CDC will also update a daily dashboard with these statistics, ensuring seniors, caregivers, and other citizens can monitor COVID-19 trends in real time. Federal officials plan to regularly share this information with state leaders, advancing communication at both the national and local levels.

5. Support ongoing studies, trials, and treatments

Looking to the future, White House officials say that testing and introducing new treatments for both COVID-19 and its lingering effects will be a priority. In addition, the administration re-implemented the White House Directorate on Global Health Security and Biodefense, a national program that monitors and responds to health outbreaks.

A Place for Mom offers up-to-date, local vaccine information

A Place for Mom’s Senior Living Advisors are working with our extensive network of senior living providers to offer up-to-date information about vaccine plans at communities in your area. With the right safety news and preventative policies, it’s possible to move to a community safely during COVID-19.

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Older Adults.”
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/older-adults.html

The White House. “National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness.” https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/National-Strategy-for-the-COVID-19-Response-and-Pandemic-Preparedness.pdf

Author
Kara Lewis

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