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COVID-19 Outbreak: VA Healthcare Plans for Veterans

By Shaniqua Williams

Posted on March 19th, 2020

People who are over the age of 65 are at a higher risk of developing severe coronavirus infections, according to data collected by the WHO. Veterans with underlying chronic conditions are at increased risk of acute events or exacerbations from the infection with the new coronavirus.

Concerns regarding the novel coronavirus continue to grow daily as the number of confirmed diagnoses has surged in the United States. We are particularly concerned about the impact on the veteran population with the U.S. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 18 million veterans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces. With older people at the gravest risk of severe illness from COVID-19, the VA must be prepared to meet their health care needs.

The VA Implemented Appropriate Measures Aimed to Lower the Risk of Veterans Being Exposed to the New Coronavirus

The higher case rate among older Americans strongly suggests a true underlying, biological vulnerability, probably exacerbated by preexisting illnesses which, according to infectious disease experts sharply raise the risk of both infection and serious illness. Veterans and their loved ones deserve to know how the VA intends to care for those who have served our country and protected our freedom. During the COVID-19 outbreak, in the effort to prevent the spread of the infection, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says it has proactively implemented protective measures aimed to protect and care for veterans in the face of the emerging health risk. These measures include:

  • Clinical screenings at VA health care facilities - Like other federal agencies, the VA uses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines for administering tests. The VA has administered over 322 COVID-19 tests nationwide, but it has 3,000 tests kits available for use.
  • Safeguards to protect nursing homes - All VA nursing homes will adopt a "no visitor" stance, meaning no outside visitors will be allowed to see residents due to COVID-19. Nursing home staff will be actively screened daily and dedicated to working at VA-run nursing homes.

Nationally, the VA is monitoring patients with confirmed cases. 44 veterans tested positive for the coronavirus as of March 18. Any veteran exhibiting any symptoms related to COVID-19 such as cough, high temperature, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing should immediately contact their local VA facility.

The VA urges veterans to call before visiting. Doctors have a specific protocol in place for anyone who may have COVID-19. For example, they immediately mask and isolate in a separate room anyone who has respiratory symptoms.

We Are Prepared to Take Action to Protect Our Most Vulnerable

Asbestos - once praised for its heat resistance and fire-proof qualities, was used extensively in the construction of barracks, vehicles, aircraft, and Navy vessels. Anyone who served on the U.S. military anytime between 1930 and the late 1970s is at high risk for developing an asbestos-related disease. No matter which branch of the military you served, you may have suffered repeated asbestos exposure while in active duty.

At Environmental Litigation Group, our goal is to help veterans affected by asbestos-related conditions identify and pursue all the benefits they are entitled to.