Nursing Home COVID-19 Testing Recommended For All Residents and Staff: White House

As coronavirus deaths continue to mount in nursing homes across the U.S., the White House is calling for all long-term care residents and nursing home staff be tested for COVID-19.

During a White House press briefing on Monday, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, announced the Trump administration’s recommendation that more than 1 million nursing home residents and staff throughout the United States receive COVID-19 testing.

On a video conference call, Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the coronavirus task force, strongly recommended governors test the nursing home population in their states.

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West Virginia and Texas have already mandated nursing home COVID-19 testing for all residents and staff. Ohio also called for ramped up testing, but indicated it did not have the capability to do that in every nursing home.

The same day the White House issued the recommendation, New York said it planned to test nursing home staff twice a week for coronavirus, and if facilities did not comply they could lose their license.

Additionally, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration issued an emergency rule requiring every nursing home in the state to allow health department officials to inspect facilities and test on-duty and off-duty staff.

Pence also indicated states which needed help conducting testing would receive it, but did not offer specifics.

Nursing homes across the nation have been hit hard by the coronavirus, with more than 20% of COVID-19 deaths in New York among nursing home residents. In other areas, like California, that number increases to 38% and in Minnesota up to 80% of deaths are among long-term care residents.

In the face of a growing number of lawsuits linked to coronavirus illnesses and deaths, the nursing home industry has successfully pushed at least six states into passing regulations granting immunity to long-term care facilities facing nursing home neglect lawsuits.

A recent AP report linked more than 27,000 coronavirus deaths to nursing home facilities nationwide, according to state health departments and media reports, accounting for up roughly one-third of the current total deaths in the U.S. attributed to the virus.

Nursing home operators have said the lack of testing kits has left them unable to stop the virus from entering and spreading through facilities. There are efforts being made to expand testing throughout the U.S., but widespread testing is still lacking.


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