Letter to Co-Chairs of the Biden-Harris Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board - Matsui, Task Force on Aging and Families Lead Effort to Appoint Aging Specialist to Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board
Dear Drs. Kessler, Murthy, and Nunez-Smith:
We are grateful for the incoming Administration's commitment to ensuring a robust federal response to the pandemic by establishing the Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board. We commend the Biden-Harris Transition for appointing, to date, a diverse range of highly qualified physicians, scientists, and public health experts to the panel. These trusted leaders are well-qualified to take on the important task of addressing the many public health and economic challenges the pandemic continues to impose on communities around our country.
Americans over the age of 65 account for more than 80% of COVID-19 deaths . The risk of severe illness, hospitalization or dying when diagnosed with COVID-19 increases with age, with older adults at the highest risk. With this in mind, the House Democratic Caucus Task Force on Aging & Families respectfully requests that a geriatrician or expert in aging services be appointed to the Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board to specifically address the disproportionate impact and unique challenges that COVID-19 has on Older Americans.
As a Task Force, we work to prioritize and address the unique needs of Older Americans and protect the fundamental rights that every older adult and their families deserve. In the context of the pandemic, we are committed to elevating the needs of at-risk older adults and their caregivers, including those living and working in congregate care settings such as nursing homes, assisted living, hospice, and other home- and community-based settings. Looking ahead, we recognize that quarantine and isolation will continue to impact the medical, nutritional, and mental health needs of many older adults and that these challenges will only be exacerbated by a winter surge in COVID-19 cases. Further, greater focus should be given to the safety, effectiveness and prioritization of vaccines and treatments for older adults. The addition of a geriatrician or expert in aging services will be critical to ensuring that the panel understands and is equipped to address these and other unique needs of older Americans when advising the President-elect on mitigating COVID-19.
Support for Older Americans, their families and their caregivers is an essential component of a robust federal response to the pandemic, and we implore you to consider including the important perspective of a geriatrician or expert in aging services on the COVID-19 Advisory Board.