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Faced with 20,000 dead, care homes seek shield from lawsuits

Faced with 20,000 coronavirus deaths and counting, the nation’s nursing homes are pushing back against a potential flood of lawsuits with a sweeping lobbying effort to get states to grant them emergency protection from claims of inadequate care. At least 15 states have enacted laws or governors’ orders that explicitly or apparently provide nursing homes and long-term care facilities some protection from lawsuits arising from the crisis. And in the case of New York, which leads the nation in deaths in such facilities, a lobbying group wrote the first draft of a measure that apparently makes it the only state with specific protection from both civil lawsuits and criminal prosecution. Now the industry is forging ahead with a campaign to get other states on board with a simple argument: This was an unprecedented crisis and nursing homes should not be liable for events beyond their control, such as shortages of protective equipment and testing, shifting directives from authorities, and sicknesses that have decimated staffs. Watchdogs, patient advocates, and lawyers argue that immunity orders are misguided. At a time when the crisis is laying bare such chronic industry problems as staffing shortages and poor infection control, they say legal liability is the last safety net to keep facilities accountable. They also contend that nursing homes are taking advantage of the crisis to protect their bottom lines. Almost 70 percent of the nation’s more than 15,000 nursing homes are run by for-profit companies, and hundreds have been bought and sold in recent years by private equity firms. Nationally, the lobbying effort is being led by the American Health Care Association, which represents nearly all of the nation’s nursing homes and has spent $23 million on lobbying efforts in the past six years. Other states that have emergency immunity measures are Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, Nevada, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. Their provisions vary but largely apply to injuries, deaths, and care decisions, sometimes even to property damage. But there are limitations: Most make exceptions for gross negligence and willful misconduct. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Airbus has no immediate need for aid, France’s government says

France stands ready to help the European planemaker Airbus, but as of now no aid is required, budget minister Gerald Darmanin said Sunday. “There’s no need for state intervention at the moment,” he told Radio J Sunday. “If there were difficulties, we’d be there to help Airbus.” Darmanin said the company has sufficient cash. Air France-KLM is set to receive a total of 7 billion euros ($7.7 billion) in state and state-backed loans from France, as well as support from the Dutch government. Airbus is already benefiting from programs to support all companies, such as with unemployment benefits. Air traffic has dropped dramatically amid the epidemic. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Uber will use tech to check if drivers are wearing masks, CNN says

Uber Technologies Inc. is developing a system to detect whether its drivers are wearing masks or face coverings, CNN reported, citing a person familiar with the matter. Meanwhile, the ride-hailing platform will require both drivers and passengers to wear masks or face coverings. The requirement will be rolled out in the coming weeks in some of its markets, including the United States, CNN said. “Our teams are preparing for the next phase of recovery, where we will all have a role to play,” Andrew Hasbun, head of safety communications at Uber, said in a statement to CNN Business. “We continue to ask riders to stay home if they can, while shipping safety supplies to drivers who are providing essential trips.” — BLOOMBERG NEWS