HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS/AP) — Pennsylvania will roll out a plan to begin coronavirus testing for every resident and employee of nursing homes and other facilities that provide care for older adults, Gov. Tom Wolf said Tuesday. Wolf said his administration will undertake the surveillance testing, with a goal of testing every resident and employee once a week, given the pandemic’s tremendous toll on nursing homes.
“What we are going to do, which I think is fairly radical, is make sure that we are doing surveillance testing,” Wolf said on a telephone news conference.
Wolf’s health secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, had previously said there was not enough available testing to test everyone in a nursing home.
She also had said that testing everyone wasn’t useful unless they were to be repeatedly tested to continue checking to see whether they became infected later.
“By testing every resident and every staff member in every nursing home, we will be able to pinpoint exactly who has COVID-19, who has been exposed but no symptoms, and cohort positive cases to prevent further spread,” Dr. Levine said during Tuesday’s briefing.
She said this will give the state “a clearer picture of the extent of outbreaks in nursing homes and a head start in stopping them.”
The virus is reported by Wolf’s administration to have killed more than 2,600 residents of 540 nursing homes or personal care homes, or two-thirds of the state’s death toll, and sickened more than 12,000 others, about one-fifth of the state’s positive tests.
Pennsylvania added more than 800 new infections and 75 deaths to the state’s COVID-19 toll on Tuesday.
The Health Department said more than 3,800 people in the state have died from the pandemic and nearly 58,000 have been sickened.
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