California health officials have yet to test at least 60% of its nursing home inspectors for COVID-19 despite promises to do so from Gov. Gavin Newsom (D).
Just 200 of the state’s 500 inspectors had been tested for coronavirus and received results as of Tuesday, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times. Just one positive test was reported to the state’s department of Health on Aug. 21. The agency noted that the employee last visited a state office or facility on Aug. 12 and didn’t come into close contact with other department staff members.
“For them to send us in without testing or screening is unconscionable,” one inspector told the news organization. “I think nursing homes shouldn’t let us in.”
State nursing home workers have been required to submit to routine testing since May in an effort to prevent the disease from coming into the facility.
However, an investigation found that the California Department of Public Health hadn’t required its inspectors to undergo the same testing required for nursing home workers. Newsom in response pledged to provide testing for inspectors.
“We’re raising our standards,” he said during a July press conference. “We’re requiring for every sector that an inspector is inspecting that they meet the same criteria that’s established within that sector.”
The program has faced harsh criticism, though. Inspectors have said the state didn’t provide the testing but rather told them to get it done themselves at Rite Aid, the report explained. They’re also not required to quarantine while waiting for results, while some inspectors said they don’t know how to interpret their test results with the department.
The state of Minnesota recently came under fire for similar concerns after it was uncovered that dozens of state health inspectors were sent to survey nursing homes’ infection control compliance without first being testing for COVID-19. Critics stated the lack of testing puts already susceptible residents and staff at greater risk of catching and spreading the disease.