Coronavirus News: Nassau County leaders call for action to protect nursing home residents from COVID-19

HEMPSTEAD, Long Island (WABC) -- Nursing homes have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19 and now officials in Nassau County are calling for action to protect the elderly and vulnerable.

In April, 92-year-old Joyce McCray died inside a Nassau County nursing home. She was a mother, a grandmother, a great-grandmother and a great-great-grandmother.

Her youngest daughter believes the family matriarch would still be alive had federal and state authorities focused their attention on nursing homes soon after the coronavirus outbreak.

"I think if the measures were put in place that she would have lived longer," said Janine McCray-Booker. "I think she was just tired of what was going on. I think she had enough."

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, nearly 5,000 other New York state families have lost a loved one inside a nursing home.

It's a mind-blowing figure that Hempstead Village leaders say must not increase.

There are nine nursing homes in and around the Nassau County village.

Village of Hempstead Trustee Lamont Johnson's mother is in one of them.

"I would like to see mandatory testing of all staff, that's a start," Johnson said. "Mandatory testing of all staff, mandatory testing of everyone that is in the facility."

And that's not all -- during an afternoon news conference, Johnson and village Mayor Don Ryan outlined a three-pronged action plan to address the mounting death toll in nursing homes: a federal investigation, more financial aid from the state and greater transparency from staff and administrators at health care facilities.

"Where are we in terms of masks, gloves, sanitizers and other needs...and we're gonna do what we can with donations to see if we can accommodate those needs," Ryan said.

Village leaders say the federal government should have addressed the nursing home concerns weeks ago, shortly after the initial outbreak inside a Seattle-area nursing home in early March.

They say lost time led to lost lives -- thousands of them.

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