Reliable or Quick Tests?
Trump is now pushing nursing homes to test all residents and staff. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced new federal regulations. These regulations require testing of staff for COVID-19. The changes are to identify asymptomatic people. These caregivers often spread the virus throughout buildings. However, many of the rapid tests provided or available are not reliable. Isn’t it more important to be accurate than fast? Reliable than quick?
Machines that process rapid tests are sitting idle in nursing homes. Staff fear that the results are not accurate. Would you take the risk? Despite the known problems, Trump’s CDC stressed the need for repeated testing among staff members to stop the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes.
Nursing home must test all residents that display symptoms of a COVID-19 infection. In the event of an outbreak, the facility must continue to test all negative residents until the virus is contained.
“Our experience continues to show that rapid and wide-scale testing in response in a setting of the nursing home to a new case is the best way to limit the transmission,” CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D., said during a call with nursing home operators.
“There can be a substantial increase in the number of individuals that actually become infected based on delays of even several days. It’s critically important in these settings to have follow-up, repeated rounds of testing until no new cases are identified,” he added.
“We would like to underscore how important it is to conduct comprehensive testing as part of outbreak investigations. In the setting of long-term care facilities, we actually define an outbreak now as any [single] new case in a nursing home in a resident or a staff person,” Redfield explained.
Maybe Trump does not actually want reliable test results.
It is doubtful that CMS will enforce the new testing requirments or the disclosure of test results.
“We want to ensure that we’re using enforcement discretion. We know that as we’re implementing this, there’s going to be some questions and concerns,” administrator Seema Verma said. Obviously, it may not be absolutely perfect, and we’ll work with you.”
You can almost see the wink-wink in the statement. Don’t hold your breath for quick and reliable test results.
Be careful. Be safe. Call us if you need help.