Faced with 20,000 dead, care homes seek shield from lawsuits
Health

Faced with 20,000 dead, care homes seek shield from lawsuits

The latest:There have been more than 1.1 million coronavirus cases in the United States, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.The U.S. death toll has surpassed 67,000 people, according to Hopkins.The Trump administration announced Sunday that 2.2 million small business loans worth $175 billion have been made in the second round of the Payroll Protection Program.How the country fares in the next few months will be “critical” in the fight against coronavirus and how it will evolve in the fall, Dr. Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.The FDA issued an emergency-use authorization on Friday for remdesivir in hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19.Faced with 20,000 coronavirus deaths and counting, the nation’s nursing homes are pushing back against a potential flood of lawsuits with a sweeping lobbying effort to get states to grant them emergency protection from claims of inadequate care.At least 15 states have enacted laws or governors’ orders that explicitly or apparently provide nursing homes and long-term care facilities some protection from lawsuits arising from the crisis. And in the case of New York, which leads the nation in deaths in such facilities, a lobbying group wrote the first draft of a measure that apparently makes it the only state with specific protection from both civil lawsuits and criminal prosecution.Now the industry is forging ahead with a campaign to get other states on board with a simple argument: This was an unprecedented crisis and nursing homes should not be liable for events beyond their control, such as shortages of protective equipment and testing, shifting directives from authorities, and sicknesses that have decimated staffs.“As our care providers make these difficult decisions, they need to know they will not be prosecuted or persecuted,” read a letter sent this month from several major hospital and nursing home groups to their next big goal, California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom has yet to make a decision. Other states in their sights include Florida, Pennsylvania and Missouri.Watchdogs, patient advocates and lawyers argue that immunity orders are misguided. At a time when the crisis is laying bare such chronic industry problems as staffing shortages and poor infection control, they say legal liability is the last safety net to keep facilities accountable.They also contend nursing homes are taking advantage of the crisis to protect their bottom lines. Almost 70% of the nation’s more than 15,000 nursing homes are run by for-profit companies, and hundreds have been bought and sold in recent years by private-equity firms.“What you’re really looking at is an industry that always wanted immunity and now has the opportunity to ask for it under the cloak of saying, ‘Let’s protect our heroes,‘” said Mike Dark, an attorney for California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform.Schumer calls for federal crackdown on predatory loan lendersNew York Sen. Chuck Schumer is calling for the federal government to stop predatory lenders from preying on people who are in desperate need of emergency funds as the coronavirus pandemic continues to cause economic hardship for millions of Americans. The senator made the request in a press release issued Sunday.“The coronavirus crisis is creating a desperate situation for countless Americans and New Yorkers, but it is also creating nefarious opportunity for greedy loan sharks who smell proverbial blood in the consumer waters,” Schumer said. He said that “loan sharks” will stop at nothing to drown everyday consumers and small businesses “in a cascade of debt that could far outlast the coronavirus itself.”“Interest rate loans that can hover around 800% aren’t just eye-popping — they’re downright shameful,” the release said. Schumer wants the nation’s federal regulators, including the Consumer Financial Protections Bureau (CFPB) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), to act and stop rolling back regulations that enable predatory lenders to prey on people.New York governor announces a 7-state partnership to purchase medical suppliesNew York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a new regional partnership with seven northeast states to form a purchasing consortium to obtain medical equipment and supplies. The consortium will purchase $5 billion of equipment and supplies that will include personal protective equipment, tests and ventilators, Cuomo said.This new partnership will make the states more competitive in the international marketplace, save taxpayer money and help the region acquire medical equipment, Cuomo added.The governor added that the consortium will coordinate with the federal government.The seven states in the consortium are New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts.Weekend in US marked by park days and protests over restrictionsThis weekend, the coronavirus crisis drove many people across the nation outside — some for recreation and others in protest.States across the U.S. are either holding fast to stay-at-home orders or beginning to phase out the restrictions, with several orders already expiring.In California, people showed up in droves to protest restrictions put in place to combat coronavirus, which has killed 66,385 people in the country and infected more than 1,100,000.More than 1,000 people, many seen not wearing masks, demonstrated with signs and American flags Friday at the California state capitol building to protest Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay at home order, according to a statement from the California Highway Patrol. More than 30 were arrested for “disobeying a lawful order, demonstrating without a permit and resisting or delaying a police officer,” the statement said.Further south, between 2,500 and 3,000 people gathered Friday at California’s Huntington Beach to protest Newsom’s closure of the state’s beaches, according to Huntington Beach Police Chief Robert Handy. There were neither arrests nor injuries.Elsewhere, residents of New York City and Washington, D.C., many of whom appeared to be observing social distancing rules, enjoyed warmer weather in parks and open spaces Saturday.And those in states including Pennsylvania and New Jersey were able to take advantage of some state parks, forest facilities and golf courses for the first time this spring.New York and White House at odds over stimulus fundingNew York City, which has been hit hard by the virus, will need stimulus funding to recover, said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio Saturday.”If we do not get stimulus funding, that makes us whole … we cannot be a part of this recovery because we will be laying people off just when you want to be hiring more and more people,” de Blasio said, adding that his city has a $7.4 billion deficit for just next year.That morning, White House economic advisor Kevin Hassett said that another stimulus package for states and localities might not be necessary.”I think right now because there’s been good news really that the opening up is starting to happen faster than we expected, appears to be doing so safely, then there is a chance that we won’t really need a phase four,” Hassett said on Fox News Saturday morning.De Blasio called the comments “outrageous” and said “it really disgusts me.”He said that Washington, not the states, is responsible for not providing testing early enough to prevent coronavirus take hold in the U.S.Experts’ grave warnings as governments loosen restrictionsMore than 30 states have begun easing some social distancing restrictions — ranging from simply opening state parks to allowing certain businesses to restart.Some of those states have let stay-at-home orders expire, with caveats restricting what businesses can open and how. One such state, Georgia, still requires the elderly to stay home until June 12. Other states and counties will ease restrictions starting Monday.Gyms and fitness centers will reopen in Arkansas on May 4, while hair salons will follow May 6.In Northern California’s Yuba and Sutter counties, restaurants, tattoo parlors and shopping malls will be allowed to open Monday, which will also be the first workday for many offices in Colorado, with operations limited to 50% capacity.But the relief of life inching back to normal comes with warnings from experts that it could make the effects of the pandemic worse.This week a model often cited by the White House upped its predictions for the U.S. death toll by August, partially because of measures lifted prematurely.And how deadly an “inevitable” second round of the virus will be depends on how prepared the United States is, the nation’s leading infectious disease doctor Dr. Anthony Fauci said this week.Fauci has also warned that lifting measures prematurely could lead to a rebound of the virus that could put the U.S. in the “same boat that we were a few weeks ago.”Experimental drug approved But there is hope the nation will be armed with a new tool for the predicted second wave.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the experimental drug remdesivir as treatment for hospitalized patients with severe coronavirus, the agency said Friday.This is the first authorized therapy for the virus in the country, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said.”This is an important clinical advance that showed a statistically significant reduction in time to recovery for patients with COVID-19 and is the first authorized therapy for COVID-19.” Hahn said.The drug was approved just days after researchers said it might help patients recover more quickly from the infection.In an emergency-use authorization Friday, the agency said the benefits of using the drug outweighed the risks.

The latest:

  • There have been more than 1.1 million coronavirus cases in the United States, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.
  • The U.S. death toll has surpassed 67,000 people, according to Hopkins.
  • The Trump administration announced Sunday that 2.2 million small business loans worth $175 billion have been made in the second round of the Payroll Protection Program.
  • How the country fares in the next few months will be “critical” in the fight against coronavirus and how it will evolve in the fall, Dr. Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.
  • The FDA issued an emergency-use authorization on Friday for remdesivir in hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19.

Faced with 20,000 coronavirus deaths and counting, the nation’s nursing homes are pushing back against a potential flood of lawsuits with a sweeping lobbying effort to get states to grant them emergency protection from claims of inadequate care.

At least 15 states have enacted laws or governors’ orders that explicitly or apparently provide nursing homes and long-term care facilities some protection from lawsuits arising from the crisis. And in the case of New York, which leads the nation in deaths in such facilities, a lobbying group wrote the first draft of a measure that apparently makes it the only state with specific protection from both civil lawsuits and criminal prosecution.

Now the industry is forging ahead with a campaign to get other states on board with a simple argument: This was an unprecedented crisis and nursing homes should not be liable for events beyond their control, such as shortages of protective equipment and testing, shifting directives from authorities, and sicknesses that have decimated staffs.

“As our care providers make these difficult decisions, they need to know they will not be prosecuted or persecuted,” read a letter sent this month from several major hospital and nursing home groups to their next big goal, California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom has yet to make a decision. Other states in their sights include Florida, Pennsylvania and Missouri.

Watchdogs, patient advocates and lawyers argue that immunity orders are misguided. At a time when the crisis is laying bare such chronic industry problems as staffing shortages and poor infection control, they say legal liability is the last safety net to keep facilities accountable.

They also contend nursing homes are taking advantage of the crisis to protect their bottom lines. Almost 70% of the nation’s more than 15,000 nursing homes are run by for-profit companies, and hundreds have been bought and sold in recent years by private-equity firms.

“What you’re really looking at is an industry that always wanted immunity and now has the opportunity to ask for it under the cloak of saying, ‘Let’s protect our heroes,‘” said Mike Dark, an attorney for California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform.

Schumer calls for federal crackdown on predatory loan lenders

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer is calling for the federal government to stop predatory lenders from preying on people who are in desperate need of emergency funds as the coronavirus pandemic continues to cause economic hardship for millions of Americans. The senator made the request in a press release issued Sunday.

“The coronavirus crisis is creating a desperate situation for countless Americans and New Yorkers, but it is also creating nefarious opportunity for greedy loan sharks who smell proverbial blood in the consumer waters,” Schumer said.

He said that “loan sharks” will stop at nothing to drown everyday consumers and small businesses “in a cascade of debt that could far outlast the coronavirus itself.”

“Interest rate loans that can hover around 800% aren’t just eye-popping — they’re downright shameful,” the release said.

Schumer wants the nation’s federal regulators, including the Consumer Financial Protections Bureau (CFPB) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), to act and stop rolling back regulations that enable predatory lenders to prey on people.

New York governor announces a 7-state partnership to purchase medical supplies

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a new regional partnership with seven northeast states to form a purchasing consortium to obtain medical equipment and supplies.

The consortium will purchase $5 billion of equipment and supplies that will include personal protective equipment, tests and ventilators, Cuomo said.

This new partnership will make the states more competitive in the international marketplace, save taxpayer money and help the region acquire medical equipment, Cuomo added.

The governor added that the consortium will coordinate with the federal government.

The seven states in the consortium are New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Weekend in US marked by park days and protests over restrictions

This weekend, the coronavirus crisis drove many people across the nation outside — some for recreation and others in protest.

States across the U.S. are either holding fast to stay-at-home orders or beginning to phase out the restrictions, with several orders already expiring.

In California, people showed up in droves to protest restrictions put in place to combat coronavirus, which has killed 66,385 people in the country and infected more than 1,100,000.

More than 1,000 people, many seen not wearing masks, demonstrated with signs and American flags Friday at the California state capitol building to protest Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay at home order, according to a statement from the California Highway Patrol.

More than 30 were arrested for “disobeying a lawful order, demonstrating without a permit and resisting or delaying a police officer,” the statement said.

Further south, between 2,500 and 3,000 people gathered Friday at California’s Huntington Beach to protest Newsom’s closure of the state’s beaches, according to Huntington Beach Police Chief Robert Handy. There were neither arrests nor injuries.

A view people enjoying the weather at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, New York, USA during coronavirus pandemic on May 2, 2020.

John Nacion / NurPhoto via Getty Images

A view people enjoying the weather at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, New York, USA during coronavirus pandemic on May 2, 2020.

Elsewhere, residents of New York City and Washington, D.C., many of whom appeared to be observing social distancing rules, enjoyed warmer weather in parks and open spaces Saturday.

And those in states including Pennsylvania and New Jersey were able to take advantage of some state parks, forest facilities and golf courses for the first time this spring.

New York and White House at odds over stimulus funding

New York City, which has been hit hard by the virus, will need stimulus funding to recover, said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio Saturday.

“If we do not get stimulus funding, that makes us whole … we cannot be a part of this recovery because we will be laying people off just when you want to be hiring more and more people,” de Blasio said, adding that his city has a $7.4 billion deficit for just next year.

That morning, White House economic advisor Kevin Hassett said that another stimulus package for states and localities might not be necessary.

“I think right now because there’s been good news really that the opening up is starting to happen faster than we expected, appears to be doing so safely, then there is a chance that we won’t really need a phase four,” Hassett said on Fox News Saturday morning.

De Blasio called the comments “outrageous” and said “it really disgusts me.”

He said that Washington, not the states, is responsible for not providing testing early enough to prevent coronavirus take hold in the U.S.

Experts’ grave warnings as governments loosen restrictions

More than 30 states have begun easing some social distancing restrictions — ranging from simply opening state parks to allowing certain businesses to restart.

Some of those states have let stay-at-home orders expire, with caveats restricting what businesses can open and how. One such state, Georgia, still requires the elderly to stay home until June 12. Other states and counties will ease restrictions starting Monday.

Gyms and fitness centers will reopen in Arkansas on May 4, while hair salons will follow May 6.

In Northern California’s Yuba and Sutter counties, restaurants, tattoo parlors and shopping malls will be allowed to open Monday, which will also be the first workday for many offices in Colorado, with operations limited to 50% capacity.

But the relief of life inching back to normal comes with warnings from experts that it could make the effects of the pandemic worse.

This week a model often cited by the White House upped its predictions for the U.S. death toll by August, partially because of measures lifted prematurely.

And how deadly an “inevitable” second round of the virus will be depends on how prepared the United States is, the nation’s leading infectious disease doctor Dr. Anthony Fauci said this week.

Fauci has also warned that lifting measures prematurely could lead to a rebound of the virus that could put the U.S. in the “same boat that we were a few weeks ago.”

Experimental drug approved

But there is hope the nation will be armed with a new tool for the predicted second wave.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the experimental drug remdesivir as treatment for hospitalized patients with severe coronavirus, the agency said Friday.

This is the first authorized therapy for the virus in the country, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said.

“This is an important clinical advance that showed a statistically significant reduction in time to recovery for patients with COVID-19 and is the first authorized therapy for COVID-19.” Hahn said.

The drug was approved just days after researchers said it might help patients recover more quickly from the infection.

In an emergency-use authorization Friday, the agency said the benefits of using the drug outweighed the risks.

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