The People Most Vulnerable to the Coronavirus Are Not Being Protected

A daily Covid-19 update from Andy Slavitt, former head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Andy Slavitt
Medium Coronavirus Blog
3 min readApr 11, 2020


Photo by Lauren A. Little, MediaNews Group via Getty Images

Pulled from my daily COVID-19 updates on Twitter

I spent the day in conversations with some of the people on society’s margins. Criminal justice, nursing homes, people with disabilities. The people America forgets. I’m really grateful that Rachel Maddow not only started pushing on this and had me on her show to discuss, but actually did the reporting to add up what’s going on.

There are roughly 1,500 nursing homes (many of which are mom and pops homes, most with shoddy safety records) which care for 1.5 million Americans. Many over 80. Most cut off from their families. 2,200 deaths in nursing homes based on what’s been reported.

So what’s going on? What did I hear? Call these anecdotes collected from probably 30 nursing homes:

  • Staff infected, not tested
  • Many staff going from home to home, not tested
  • Many with no gear
  • Hospitals refusing to take patients
  • No resources to pick up bodies for days
  • Management overwhelmed and unprepared
  • Physicians not permitted to enter almost any place I talked to
  • Short staffed because some nurses who cover more than one aren’t let in
  • little to no money to invest in improvements

And most importantly:

  • Incredible loneliness
  • Overburdened staff can’t spend time
  • Family can’t visit
  • Sitting in chairs all day long
  • Assistance with bathroom and cleanliness challenging
  • Infection causing audible distress