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Nursing homes determining how to test residents, staff after Pence recommendation

Nursing homes determining how to test residents, staff after Pence recommendation
Posted at 2:39 PM, May 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-15 10:41:12-04

Nursing homes are working to figure out how they're going to get all of their residents and staff tested.

Vice President Mike Pence made the recommendation this week that all of that testing happen in the next two weeks. That's around 2 million people getting tested. He's calling on the governors to make it happen.

This comes more than two months after the first major outbreak at a nursing home in Washington state.

The American Health Care Association represents senior care facilities. It says it's going to require a lot of coordination within states and with testing laboratories to get the testing done and get the results quickly. But then, there's the question of what comes next.

“The other question is going to be, what do we do when we get the results back? And what do we do, you know, in a couple of weeks because testing one time helps us now but we need ongoing testing as well,” said Dr. David Gifford with the American Health Care Association.

Another issue is who pays for the testing. The association says Medicare is paying in some cases, but some of the new labs aren't set up to bill for Medicare.

A senior Trump administration leader tells The Associated Press if states aren't able to come up with plans quickly to do the testing, there's a good chance they'll order them to do it.

Nursing homes say a big issue for them has been people who are not showing symptoms spreading the virus. That's something they're looking into as they make reopening plans.

They don't want to rush to let family and friends back in, and then see another wave of the virus spreading in all nursing homes.

“Putting a mask on everyone and letting them go into everyone's room still may not be an effective strategy,” said Gifford. “How can you do visiting with social distancing? Maybe setting up areas in common area rooms, maybe setting stuff outside when the weather is appropriate.”

They say other things they'll need for reopening are getting staff back and getting them more personal protective equipment.

Global Coronavirus Tracker:

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Data from The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.