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On Thursday May 28, Axios Co-founder Mike Allen and Health Care Reporter Caitlin Owens hosted a conversation on the impact of the coronavirus on seniors in long-term care facilities with Sen. Robert Casey (D-Pa.) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.).

Sen. Casey discussed the scope of the pandemic, underscoring the need for the CMS and the CDC to provide data on outbreaks in facilities to help inform residents.

  • On the scale of the crisis: "37,000 people have died in long-term care settings. When you combine the number of residents who died with the number of workers, that's more than 1/3 of the total death count in the country. So this is a grave, serious problem that demands urgent action."
  • On the importance of having accurate, up-to-date data: "If you don't test and you don't have a sense of the scale and scope of the problem, you're not going to be able to deal with any kind of COVID-19 challenge."

Sen. Cassidy advocated for twice weekly testing in all nursing homes and discussed the economic burden that shutting down the economy places on young people.

  • On the need for more regular testing: "There are those who are at high risk of infection and then there are those who are at high risk if they get infected...The CDC has put out recommendations that we should be testing workers in nursing homes once weekly for the virus. I actually think that should be twice weekly."
  • On young people leading economic reopening: "The penalties for shutting down the economy disproportionately fall on the young. We should not penalize them more than we have to...they can benefit us by being our caregivers, working in the service industry — everything we need to have a functioning economy."

In a View from the Top segment, Axios CEO & Co-founder Jim VandeHei spoke with Chief Advocacy Officer at AARP, Nancy LeaMond, about the necessity of keeping people in nursing homes connected with their loved ones and the challenge of making sure all nursing homes and long-term care facilities are meeting safety guidelines.

  • "We know that many nursing homes do not have adequate protective equipment and are not fully able to test and that it varies across the country...States like Arizona are very far behind. Maricopa County, which accounts for roughly half of the state's population is also accounting for about 83% of the deaths in nursing homes."

Thank you AARP for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Updated Oct 16, 2020 - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Note: Does not include probable deaths from New York City; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. surpassed 8 million coronavirus cases on Friday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: Coronavirus infections jumped by almost 17% over the past week as the number of new cases across the country increased in 38 states and Washington, D.C., according to a seven-day average tracked by Axios.

Republicans pledge to set aside differences and work with Biden

President Biden speaks to Sen. Mitch McConnell after being sworn in at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Several Republicans praised President Biden's calls for unity during his inaugural address on Wednesday and pledged to work together for the benefit of the American people.

Why it matters: The Democrats only have a slim majority in the Senate and Biden will likely need to work with the GOP to pass his legislative agenda.

The Biden protection plan

Joe Biden announces his first run for the presidency in June 1987. Photo: Howard L. Sachs/CNP/Getty Images

The Joe Biden who became the 46th president on Wednesday isn't the same blabbermouth who failed in 1988 and 2008.

Why it matters: Biden now heeds guidance about staying on task with speeches and no longer worries a gaffe or two will cost him an election. His staff also limits the places where he speaks freely and off the cuff. This Biden protective bubble will only tighten in the months ahead, aides tell Axios.