Nursing homes in New Jersey that receive BinaxNOW rapid, COVID-19 testing kits must test all workers and visitors for a two-week period under a new state directive. 

The state’s health department announced the launch of its new testing pilot at long-term care facilities Monday. Nursing homes must test their workers for COVID-19 every other day, or during their next shift once 48 hours has passed since their last test, during the two weeks.

Facilities also must test any visitor entering the facility with an FDA approved or authorized point-of-care test, unless the visitor can show proof of a negative point-of-care test performed within the past 48 hours.

Provider advocates said they were prepared for the state’s pilot program. 

“While we await the vaccine within weeks, and are encouraged that we will be prioritized, we have worked with the Department of Health on this pilot program,” Andrew Aronson, director of the Nursing Home Advocates of New Jersey, told local media.

“New Jersey nursing homes are working hard to provide the best possible care to our residents throughout the pandemic,” he added. 

The program applies to facilities that have received BinaxNOW supplies from the federal government and also have a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) waiver. The state agency recently distributed more than 366,000 BinaxNOW tests to CLIA-certified facilities. 

The state directive also requires testing of residents who leave the facility for more than 24 hours and regular medical appointments, which can be based on a risk assessment. 

“Once again, community spread across the state is driving outbreaks in our congregate care facilities,” New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said in a statement. “This two-week pilot will help inform further guidance to protect our vulnerable seniors in their homes.”

The pilot program is set to end on Dec. 14 or when facilities run out of supplies.