Rep. Josh Gottheimer Introduces Bill to Send Strike Teams to Long-Term Care Facilities

Rep. Josh Gottheimer is an original cosponsor of 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.

The Sending Outside Support Act of 2020 (SOS Act) would authorize the U.S. Secretary Health and Human Services 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. 

Crisis Epicenter

“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,” said Gottheimer.  “Medical personnel and staff at these facilities are working hard to protect residents, but many are out sick or are still recovering.” 

As of May 19, there are more than 525 long-term care facilities in New Jersey combating COVID-19 outbreaks. The facilities have reported more than 28,000 coronavirus cases and 5,400 deaths overall.

“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, according to the congressman.

Strike Team Success

“With this new bill, we are investing in strike teams to come in to help stop the spread,” said Gottheimer. “We will not beat this or flatten the curve if the virus is able to continue to spread like wildfire in our nursing homes.” 

Gottheimer has made a concerted effort to bring federal resources to help the state manage the crisis at long-term facilities. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently approved clinical staffing support teams to begin assisting and consulting nursing homes in New Jersey on infection control procedures to combat coronavirus outbreaks in an effort led by the congressman. 

Additionally, Gottheimer introduced bipartisan legislation with fellow New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith to require that nursing homes report communicable diseases, infections, and potential outbreaks to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 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 on hand.

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