OLYMPIA – Supply shipments start today as part of Washington state’s effort to test thousands of staffers and residents at long term care facilities across the state in two weeks’ time. Supplies include test kits, personal protective equipment and return shipment materials, to be sent in waves every three days to ensure labs have the capacity to process all of the samples.
On May 29, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) issued an order that requires widespread testing within long term care facilities. Residents and staff in nursing homes will be tested within approximately two weeks, with a completion goal date of June 12. All residents and staff in assisted living facilities with a memory care unit will be tested within four weeks, with a completion goal date of June 26.
“Information about testing in other long term care facilities will be forthcoming,” said Secretary of Health John Wiesman. “These congregate settings are a priority for us and we are working with local health jurisdictions, facilities and health system partners to understand the challenges associated with expanded testing and mobilizing the resources to support scaled operations among these facilities.”
Nursing home and other long term care residents are at high risk for infection, serious illness and death from COVID-19, and testing, along with other infection prevention and control measures, is a critical tool to identify cases and stop transmission. Once test results are received, positive results should be reported following normal protocol, and be referred to local health jurisdictions for case investigation, contact tracing and isolation/quarantine support. If a resident tests positive, DOH recommends that the facility follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on cohorting both residents and staff. Staff who are asymptomatic and test positive should not return to work for 10 days (from the test day).
Federal guidance recommends a baseline universal test for all residents and staff before a facility progresses between any phases of reopening.