The Trump administration will ratchet up testing at nursing homes in coronavirus hotspots around the country, Health and Human Services said.
“Access to rapid point-of-care testing in nursing homes will further protect our Nation’s most vulnerable patients,” said Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett P. Giroir in a statement released Tuesday.
Distribution of the tests will begin next week and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will prioritize which nursing homes receive them.
Initially, they will be provided with one diagnostic test instrument and associated tests.
The facilities can get additional tests from the test manufacturers, HHS said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that nursing homes test residents and staff and continue regular screenings.
“This new testing initiative is critical for keeping vulnerable older adults safe while delivering the quality of life they deserve,” CMMS Administrator Seema Verma said. “It gives nursing homes the ability to swiftly identify residents that need to be isolated and mitigate the spread of the virus. As one more tool in the toolbox, it represents an important step toward the long-awaited reunion of residents with their loved ones.”
The action comes as coronavirus cases are surging across southern states and the death toll from the virus has surpassed 136,000.
There were more than 35,000 deaths among nursing home residents as of last Thursday, CMMS said.