We continue to fail to protect the elderly in nursing homes and their caretakers from COVID-19

All the masks, gloves and disinfectant in the world can do only so much given the great danger in congregate settings — community spread.

SHARE We continue to fail to protect the elderly in nursing homes and their caretakers from COVID-19
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Kay Foley, 88, and her daughter Chris Coverdale blow kisses to each other after an outdoor visit at a nursing home in Minneapolis. Nursing homes continue to be hot spots for COVID-19, writes a Sun-Times reader, and greater protections are necessary.

Jerry Holt/AP Photos

I couldn’t agree more with Bob Gallo of AARP Illinois, who wrote in the Sun-times last week that our elected leaders must do more now to protect nursing home residents and their staff against COVID-19. There should be a stronger effort everywhere to support skilled nursing facilities.

While measures to combat COVID have been in place since the beginning of the pandemic, all the masks, gloves and disinfectant in the world can do only so much given the great danger in congregate settings — community spread.

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Consider the example of Major League Baseball. The league has attempted an elaborate reopening experiment. But extensive infection control procedures, daily rapid testing and strict physical distancing have not prevented an outbreak of COVID-19 among players.

Professional athletes — young men in pristine health — could not be protected despite limitless resources. How can we expect that nursing homes would be any different? The answer is, we can’t.

As studies by Harvard and University of Chicago researchers have shown, COVID-19 gains a foothold in nursing homes whenever the virus is rampant in the surrounding community. At the end of the day, even when the strictest infection control measures are put in place, nursing homes are congregate settings and home to the most vulnerable members of our society.

Now more than ever, we call on elected leaders and society in general to put a greater priority on the safety of the elderly and their caretakers. As Gallo wrote, it is truly a matter of life or death.

Pat Comstock
Health Care Council of Illinois
Director of COVID-19 Response

Support for police works both ways

Thanks to Juanita Santiago for her letter last week in which she empathized with and mourned “the victims of police brutality and racial profiling” while also calling for “conscientious and honorable Chicagoans” to support the police. These two things go hand in hand.

We need to support the police. But we also need for the police to end the coverups of brutal behavior. Better yet, we need the police to cease with such unwarranted brutal behavior in the first place.

Would the police officers involved in the deaths of Laquan McDonald and George Floyd cases been held responsible had there been no videos? How many similar incidents have occurred but not led to prosecutions due to cover-ups?

Santiago wrote that “the Chicago police are working hard to enact needed reforms.” Support for the police will increase greatly when that occurs.

Kevin Coughlin, Evanston

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