Gottheimer Helps Introduce Bill to Send Strike Teams to Nursing Homes & Long-Term Care Facilities to Help Fight COVID-19 Outbreaks

SOS Act of 2020 supports clinical and non-clinical strike teams to assist long-term care facilities

28,000+ cases and 5,400+ deaths in NJ long-term care facilities

On May 19, 2020, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) announced he is an original cosponsor of new legislation to create strike teams of clinical and non-clinical staff to provide immediate support to nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and skilled nursing facilities experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19 in North Jersey and across the country.

The new bill — the Sending Outside Support Act of 2020 (SOS Act) — would authorize the U.S. Secretary Health and Human Services (HHS) to allocate investment to states for the creation of these strike teams. The teams would assist facility personnel with the management and treatment of COVID-19 outbreaks. 

Currently, there are more than 525 long-term care facilities in New Jersey combating COVID-19 outbreaks, with more than 28,000 coronavirus cases reported in these facilities overall, and with more than 5,400 deaths

“New Jersey continues to be at the epicenter of this crisis, and our state’s long-term care facilities need the proper support to fight these outbreaks. Medical personnel and staff at these facilities are working hard to protect residents, but many are out sick or are still recovering. With this new bill, we are investing in strike teams to come in to help stop the spread,” said Congressman Josh Gotttheimer (NJ-5). “We will not beat this or flatten the curve if the virus is able to continue to spread like wildfire in our nursing homes.”

According to public reports, more than 28,000 residents and workers in nursing homes and long-term care facilities have died from COVID-19 nationwide.

“Strike teams” have already been used with great success in various states, including Maryland and Massachusetts, to ramp up care in facilities that have seen the highest COVID-19 case counts.

The original cosponsors of this bill are Congressman Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Congressman Tom Suozzi (NY-23), Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy (FL-7), and Congressman Jason Crow (CO-6).

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Earlier in May, following multiple requests led by Gotheimer, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) approved clinical staffing support teams to begin assisting and consulting nursing homes in New Jersey on infection control procedures to combat coronavirus outbreaks. This is in addition to helping the state-run veterans homes.

Gottheimer recently introduce bipartisan legislation with Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-4) — the Nursing Home Pandemic Protection Act of 2020 — to require that nursing homes report communicable diseases, infections, and potential outbreaks to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and that residents and their families be kept informed of infections inside the facilities; as well as requiring facilities have both a crisis plan in place to manage an outbreak and a stockpile of personal protect equipment (PPE) on hand.

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