TOLEDO, Ohio, March 17, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Welltower® Inc. (NYSE: WELL) today issued the following statement from Thomas J. DeRosa, Chairman and CEO:
There is no perfect playbook to manage through a pandemic. However, flu and infection mitigation are integral parts of the day to day operating model in seniors housing, post-acute care and our medical office buildings. We maintain that the population of frail and/or memory impaired seniors are best served in safe, controlled environments that have time tested protocols in disease mitigation in place. It is imperative that this population's daily needs for nutrition, hydration, medication management and other necessary activities of daily living be met, especially at this time where conventional home settings have neither the infrastructure, protocols nor staff to appropriately care for these seniors. If we cannot maintain these social determinants of health for this at-risk population, they will wind up in acute care hospitals which, given hospitals' increasing need to focus capacity on testing and treating COVID-19, is simply not an option.
I strongly believe that Welltower is well positioned to help address this crisis as we provide the necessary support to our operators and health systems to meet the needs of their populations. We are also actively looking for capacity across our portfolio to enable more off-site COVID-19 testing and other assets that can offer effective quarantine for those exposed to this virus.
While this can change at any moment, we have seen senior housing occupancy levels remain stable over the last four weeks. Occupancy of our 579 senior housing operating buildings (SHOP) over that time frame remained at an average of 85.7%, with a range of 85.6% to 85.8%. Specifically, in the Seattle MSA, our portfolio remained stable with an average weekly occupancy of 83.9%, with a range from 83.8% to 84.0% over last four weeks.
As of March 16, we have two residents with reported positive tests for COVID-19 in the US. Elevated protocols were put in place as early as late January which, if we look at our Seattle area assets, tells us they are helping to mitigate the spread of the virus and protect our resident base. While elevated protocols in the communities might mean a slower new resident flow in the short term, we have also seen a commensurate decline in voluntary move outs and higher lead-to-closing ratios. Our highest priority has been and will continue to be the safety of our residents and employees.
On behalf of our operators, health system partners, the tens of thousands of care givers and all the employees of Welltower, I want to let you know that we have the strength, courage and resolve to manage through this unprecedented situation.
Forward-Looking Statements and Risk Factors
This press release contains "forward-looking statements" as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. When we use words such as "may," "will," "intend," "should," "believe," "expect," "anticipate," "project," "estimate" or similar expressions that do not relate solely to historical matters, we are making forward-looking statements. In particular, these forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, those relating to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our properties and our operators, and the health systems and populations we serve; measures we have taken to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including health and safety protocols and system capacity enhancements; and our expected occupancy rates. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks and uncertainties that may cause our actual results to differ materially from our expectations discussed in the forward-looking statements. This may be a result of various factors, including, but not limited to: the impact of COVID-19; the status of the economy; the status of capital markets; issues facing the health care industry; negative developments in the operating results or financial condition of operators/tenants, including, but not limited to, their ability to pay rent and repay loans; the failure to make new investments or acquisitions as and when anticipated; natural disasters, pandemics and other acts of God affecting our
properties; our ability to re-lease space at similar rates as vacancies occur; operator/tenant or joint venture partner bankruptcies or insolvencies; the cooperation of joint venture partners; government regulations affecting Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates and operational requirements; liability or contract claims by or against operators/tenants; unanticipated difficulties and/or expenditures relating to future investments or acquisitions; key management personnel recruitment and retention; and other risks described in our reports filed from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Finally, we undertake no obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements, whether because of new information, future events or otherwise, or to update the reasons why actual results could differ from those projected in any forward-looking statements.
Welltower Inc. (NYSE: WELL), an S&P 500 company headquartered in Toledo, Ohio, is driving the transformation of health care infrastructure. The Company invests with leading seniors housing operators, post-acute providers and health systems to fund the real estate infrastructure needed to scale innovative care delivery models and improve people's wellness and overall health care experience. Welltower®, a real estate investment trust ("REIT"), owns interests in properties concentrated in major, high-growth markets in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, consisting of seniors housing and post-acute communities and outpatient medical properties. More information is available at welltower.com.