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California Orders Nursing Homes To Accept People With Coronavirus

An elderly woman holds hands with a younger person in this undated photo.

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Above: An elderly woman holds hands with a younger person in this undated photo.

The California Department of Public Health is coming under fire for ordering nursing homes to accept people with the coronavirus.

The department of health has instructed California’s some 1500 nursing homes to ban non-essential visitors to protect its elderly residents from COVID-19.

But Monday night it issued a different kind of order.

The department directed nursing homes to accept people suspected or diagnosed with COVID-19, while taking “appropriate precautions to prevent the spread of the infection.”

Reported by Amita Sharma

Dr. Karl Steinberg, a nursing home and hospice medical director in North County, called the order reckless.

“What responsible healthcare provider would willingly put somebody who has this deadly, contagious illness into a place where it doesn’t already exist?" he asked. "To me, that’s essentially being an accessory to homicide.”

Steinberg said the directive sends the message that older people are dispensable and are not as important as the rest of the population.

The department of health did not respond to requests for comment.

San Diego County has about 100 nursing homes.

Listen to this story by Amita Sharma.

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Photo of Amita Sharma

Amita Sharma
Investigative Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs an investigative reporter for KPBS, I've helped expose political scandals and dug into intractable issues like sex trafficking. I've raised tough questions about how government treats foster kids. I've spotlighted the problem of pollution in poor neighborhoods. And I've chronicled corporate mistakes and how the public sometimes ends up paying for them.

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