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STATE WIDE–About half of the people who have died from coronavirus in Indiana have been residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities. Regular testing and sufficient masks for all workers and residents are bein g pushed by groups like the AARP.

“They’re not just statistics. You’re talking about mothers. You’re talking about fathers. They’re our families and that’s why it’s important for us to be talking about this issue,” said Jason Tomsci, AARP’s associate director of communications for Indiana.

He said regular testing is important because people who work at homes leave and come back, and sometimes work at other facilities. The state has made strides in having both staff and residents tested.

He said the governor and state department of health should be reaching out to Indiana’s Congressional delegation and people at the federal level to make sure the state is getting everything possible to make sure those tests are available and that PPE is available, too.

“You have people that are in closer quarters. This virus disproportionately impacts older Hoosiers and Americans and those who have underlying health conditions.”

In addition to increasing testing, the state has also loosened restrictions on visitation at some facilities. Tomsci said the AARP has no problem with that.

“Obviously it has to be outside, social distancing. Everybody has to wear masks. It’s good for the health of the residents from the social isolation standpoint because you have folks that really need that connection with family,” said Tomsci.

He said there must be an option for virtual visitation, because weather won’t always allow outside visits.

Tomsci said the state should also release data on deaths and cases in long-term care facilities daily, rather than weekly.