Families Mourn COVID-19 Deaths at Skilled Nursing Facilities While State Senate Refuses to Hear Levine Bill to Protect Vulnerable During a Pandemic
(SACRAMENTO, CA) – As COVID-19 continues to kill medically vulnerable Californians housed at skilled nursing facilities (SNF), the State Senate’s Health Committee, chaired by Senator Richard Pan (D – Sacramento) is refusing to hear legislation by Assemblymember Marc Levine (D – Marin County), which would create best practices and uniform health and safety guidelines to keep these vulnerable residents safe in the event of a pandemic or other emergency.
Residents at SNFs have been impacted more than any other group during the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents generally live in a shared enclosed environment where the virus can easily spread. These residents also generally have weaker immune systems or other underlying health issues, which makes COVID-19 especially deadly. To date, 3,214 people have died at a California SNF, representing more than 36% of the 8,909 total COVID-19 deaths in the state. In Levine’s Sonoma County district, COVID-19 deaths at skilled nursing and residential care facilities account for 81% of all COVID-19 fatalities in the county.
Levine’s AB 1324, introduced earlier this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, would require the Department of Public Health and the Department of Social Services to create health and safety guidelines and best practices for use by skilled nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities, and congregate living health facilities. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed significant deficiencies in various safety net services, including skilled nursing and other long-term care facilities. AB 1324 is timely and necessary to provide these facilities with critical information and guidelines to help keep patients, staff and the public safe in the event of a future pandemic or public health crisis.
“Vulnerable Californians will continue to die because Senator Richard Pan and the Senate Health Committee have chosen to ignore desperately needed solutions to this pandemic,” said Assemblymember Marc Levine. “As the son of a parent who resided at a skilled nursing facility where thirteen residents died of COVID-19, families need answers and a plan to keep their loved ones safe. Every day that passes without action by Senator Pan and the Senate Health Committee on my AB 1324 is another day that the life of someone’s parent or loved one remains in peril. With only a month until the Legislature adjourns, I respectfully request that Senator Pan reconsider his decision not to hear AB 1324 and agendize this bill at the Committee’s next scheduled hearing. With lives on the line, we cannot delay action that will protect the lives of residents and staff at skilled nursing facilities across the state.”
The Senate Health Committee is scheduled to hold its next hearing on Saturday, August 1.
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