Transparency should be the rule, not the exception. Only two states disclose senior living facilities with coronavirus infections. COVID-19 inside senior living requires transparency. But there’s no coordinated comprehensive data or effort to protect residents or staff. Secrecy, often behind the excuse of privacy, is the standard. Not transparency.

Senior Living Ground Zero for Many Local Outbreaks

As a result? COVID-19 is running rampant in these facilities. A large share of total coronavirus cases trace back to congregate senior facilities of various types. We cannot contain the spread without addressing senior living. The Kirkland disaster highlights the problem both within a facility and the impact on the surrounding community.

Secrecy Kills

Privacy is protecting operators, not lives. We need more focus on protecting the most vulnerable and the staff that serves them. Good data. Transparency is essential. And adequate testing, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), infection control training, and emergency staff support. Policymakers and operators are falling behind the curve. The senior living industry prefers secrecy and now the lack of transparency is killing residents, endangering staff, and will bankrupt facilities and operators. It’s a nightmare for residents and families. And an existential threat to an industry. Crisis froze the industry and its regulators like deer in the headlights. Stuck in old habits of secrecy to prevent data-based cross-shopping or market accountability.

WSJ Highlights the Threat

The Wall Street Journal highlights the problem in a recent article. This experience will color the reputation for senior living just as baby boomers plan for retirement. Boomers already had a strong preference for aging-in-place. The industry’s coronavirus track record will leave a deep mark on consumer perceptions.

COVID-19 senior living transparency is a must for trust and an effective response to the crisis. Transparency is not what residents or family are getting from most operators or state regulators. Secrecy is. As a result, most state and federal policymakers have a blindspot in their coronavirus response planning. Hiding the truth hurts everyone.