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Safeguarding the elderly is an imperative

By Sunday, more than 2,600 of the Americans killed by COVID-19 had been residents of nursing homes or other long-term care facilities. The coronavirus first attracted wide attention when it began ravaging a nursing home in Washington. There, 43 residents and staff had succumbed to the disease.

Other mini-outbreaks have been reported at nursing homes. Thirty-nine people died at one in Richmond, Virginia. Thirty-seven veterans were claimed at a home in Holyoke, Massachusetts. The list goes on.

In terms of protecting Americans from the disease, nursing homes and similar facilities should be top priorities. Most seem to have taken the first step, restricting visitors.

More needs to be done. As testing kits for COVID-19 — both those to determine whether a person has the virus and others identifying those who have had it — become more common, long-term care facilities should be the first places for delivery.

Testing ought to include residents and staff — and their families and friends. People who deliver food, medicines and other supplies to nursing homes should be included. In short, a wall of testing needs to be erected around long-term care facilities.

COVID-19 is particularly severe among the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions. Safeguarding them needs to be viewed as an imperative. Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities clearly are the place to start.

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