Letter to governor notes facilities are ‘epicenter of deaths’ from the virus in PA
In a letter sent yesterday to the governor and state health secretary, Senator Tom Killion (R-Chester and Delaware) called for all residents and staff in Pennsylvania’s approximately 1,900 congregate care facilities to be tested for COVID-19.
“Our nursing and personal care homes have clearly become the epicenter of deaths related to the virus,” wrote Killion. “The number of lives lost in these facilities has been nothing less than horrific.”
According to data reported yesterday by the PA Department of Health, congregate care residents account for a staggering 1,505 of the state’s 2,292 deaths, 66 percent. 19 percent of the 8,112 congregate care residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 have died.
In his letter, Killion noted the PA Health Care Association, a trade association representing the owners and operators of the state’s congregate care facilities, estimates less than two percent of residents living in nursing and personal care homes have been tested for COVID-19.
“The fact that so few residents have been tested is shocking considering how much the data illustrates the disproportionately deadly nature of the virus for residents in these facilities,” Killion wrote.
There are approximately 700 nursing homes with more than 88,000 beds and more than 1,200 licensed personal care homes serving approximately 46,500 residents in Pennsylvania.
“As COVID-19 continues its deadly proliferation in our nursing and personal care homes, I ask the Administration to immediately ensure the testing of all residents and workers in these facilities. It is clear that this testing is urgently needed and long overdue,” wrote Killion.
Killion acknowledged concerns related to a lack of adequate testing, but emphasized the need to prioritize testing for congregate care residents and staff.
“The data is chilling,” commented Killion. “We must prioritize the protection of the most vulnerable. In the case of COVID-19, it’s inarguable that our seniors, and particularly residents of nursing and personal care homes are at a grave risk. Comprehensive testing is the first step in protecting them.”