Letter to the Editor: Delaware should do more to protect the most vulnerable

Delaware’s Division of Public Health recently announced an update to its coronavirus numbers, adding 67 newly counted deaths, most of which were in long-term care facilities. That’s about 64% of all COVID-19 deaths statewide. The national average is just 40%. The 10 largest long-term facilities in Delaware account for 45% of all Delaware COVID-19 deaths.

Delaware has made progress in some areas (like mandatory testing in facilities), but AARP Delaware is urging leaders to do more to protect older adults living in long-term care facilities. We are calling on Gov., Carney to make the following actions a top priority:

• Transparency — The Division of Public Health should begin daily, public reporting of COVID-19 cases and deaths in each facility, so families can know the facts about their loved ones’ safety. Why is this data not posted on the My Healthy Community dashboard?

• Virtual Visits — With strict limits on visitation, facilities must work proactively to provide regular video chats or phone calls with family members.

• No Immunity — Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities must be accountable for the care they provide. Delaware should not strip away the rights and protections of residents.

These deaths are not statistics to be ignored or explained away. They are mothers, fathers, grandparents, and spouses with families who love them.

We are calling on Gov.. Carney and the Division of Public Health to shed light on what is happening in our long-term care facilities, and to take swift and decisive action to ensure the health and safety of residents and staff. For those who are concerned about the safety of a loved one living in a nursing home, contact the Delaware Nursing Home Ombudsman program at 1-800-223-9074.  Families and caregivers can also find additional information and resources about COVID-19 at www.aarp.org/coronavirus.

Charles Schonder
Legislative chairman, AARP South Coastal Chapter
Ocean View