Industry leaders are pushing hard for full COVID-19 facility testing, and pulling no punches in their assessment of a new promise to deliver personal protective equipment for nursing facilities.

American Health Care Association President and CEO Mark Parkinson Wednesday called on states to prioritize expanded testing access. All eldercare facility residents should be tested, he said — regardless of symptoms — to help beleaguered operators contain viral transmission. The organization also said nationwide emergency funding is needed to help long-term care providers respond effectively to the crisis.

The industry has been forgotten, said Parkinson, reiterating a point he’s stressed for weeks to federal and state health officials.  

“If we are not made a top priority, this situation will get worse with the most vulnerable in our society being lost.”

Since investigating the first U.S. coronavirus outbreak in a Seattle nursing home, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that facilities consider a test-based strategy for identifying residents with SARS-CoV-2 infection “as testing availability improves.” Identification of symptomatic and asymptomatic residents allows operators to make informed decisions to cohort, isolate and otherwise triage infected residents, the agency stated. 

Meanwhile, Parkinson and industry advocate LeadingAge praised a plan by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to ship PPE supplies to more than 15,000 nursing homes by early May. But the response is months overdue, said LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan.

“It is disgraceful that PPE and testing were not prioritized for older adults in the early days of this pandemic, even though it was widely understood from the outset that older adults and caregivers were at the greatest risk,” she said in a statement.

FEMA’s PPE distribution plan also excludes a large swath of senior living and care communities, reports McKnight’s Senior Living. This includes independent living, assisted living, memory care and continuing care retirement communities, a decision with “grave consequences,” contend the leaders of Argentum and the American Seniors Housing Association.