The COVID-19 epidemic has hit residents and staff of congregate long-term care communities particularly hard. In North Carolina, the site of this research, over half of registered mortality has been associated with congregate living communities. This article reports on phase one of a rapid qualitative assessment of long-term care professionals and regional aging staff navigating care during this epidemic. Our purpose is twofold. We demonstrate both the value of rapid qualitative appraisals to capture the perspectives and concerns of COVID-19’s long-term care workers and area aging staff, in this case, the staff and advocates that care for and protect the rights of long-term care community residents as well as present data collected in this phase. Key points raised focus on safety, including access and use of personal protective equipment, infection control, limited testing, and staffing issues. In addition, participants expressed concerns about the physical and mental health of residents because they have been isolated from family and friends since the executive order closed these communities to all non-essential people. We will utilize these data, in collaboration with staff and advocates, to inform policy and programming to better address the needs of both residents and staff of long-term care communities.

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