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'We can't wait' | Austin funds help for local nursing homes

Austin City Council voted Thursday to pass a resolution funding additional resources to help nursing homes combat COVID-19.

AUSTIN, Texas — As Austin nursing home deaths continue to rise during the coronavirus crisis, city leaders have voted to allocate additional resources to local long-term care facilities.

On Thursday, Austin City Council voted unanimously to fund additional support for nursing homes.

The resolution, drafted by Council Member Ann Kitchen, District 5, provides increased testing, protective equipment, staffing and support for nursing home staff.

RELATED: Some nursing home staff worked with coronavirus symptoms, says state official

It also approves the City to partner with Dell Medical School to come up with best practices to improve nursing home care moving forward.

“We know that we need these resources, we know that we need to get this done, both to protect workers and residents, but also for the entire community,” Kitchen said. “This is the key thing we need to be working on in our public health emergency.”

The City does not know how much the resources will cost, but a price estimate is expected on May 21.

RELATED: Nearly half of Texas coronavirus deaths linked to senior care facilities

The money for these resources will come from city funds, but Austin leaders will seek reimbursement from the state and federal governments.

“This calls for immediate action and funding and authorizes the city manager to immediately use the funding and the resources necessary to carry out the actions that are in this resolution,” Kitchen said during the meeting Thursday. “We can’t wait for the State and federal government.”

RELATED: Austin nursing home resident dies from coronavirus, sister says

On Tuesday, Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said 335 residents and staff at long-term care facilities have tested positive for the virus in Austin. 30 deaths have been tied to those local facilities, one of those deaths being a staff member.

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