Katko proposes study to reduce contagious disease spread in senior living facilities

U.S. Rep. John Katko (R-NY) recently unveiled a bipartisan bill that calls for a federal study on how housing design could help prevent the spread of communicable diseases in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.

“I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to continue my work in protecting central New York seniors,” Rep. Katko said. “This measure will create a study to develop best practices in senior housing design to reduce the spread of highly contagious and easily transmitted diseases such as COVID-19.” 

Rep. Katko on Oct. 6 sponsored the Keeping Seniors Safe from COVID-19 Through Home Design Act, H.R. 8540, with original cosponsors that included U.S. Rep. Max Rose (D-NY). The bill would require the secretaries of both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to conduct the housing design study, according to the congressional record bill summary.

For instance, the study would consider the potential advantages of updated HVAC systems, installation of hands-free sinks, and redesign of building layouts in protecting older Americans from highly contagious diseases, according to a bill summary provided by the congressman’s office. 

“With more than 6,000 COVID-19 deaths in New York State adult living facilities, I am highly concerned about the transmission of COVID-19 amongst seniors,” said Rep. Katko. “These tragic statistics highlight the urgent need for legislation to address the spread of disease in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.”

Combined with his past efforts to advocate for additional funding for assisted-living and nursing home facilities, Rep. Katko said that H.R. 8540 would “ensure we can limit the spread of highly communicable diseases in senior living facilities and reduce the impact of any future pandemic or public health crisis on our seniors.”

The measure has been referred for consideration to the U.S. House Financial Services Committee.