Providers who’ve been unable to test residents and employees for coronavirus due to limited access may have their chance starting this week.
Hospitals and public labs may be able to test up to 4 million people as more diagnostic kits are distributed across the country, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
“Next week, we’ll keep ramping up production. So as many as 4 million tests next week are going to be driving forward,” Azar said Friday.
Limited access to tests has been a major concern for both providers and federal officials throughout its outbreak response efforts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been rapidly working to supply public health labs with test kits to help speed up the testing process.
The American Health Care Association has also called for nursing home residents and employees to be given top priority once additional testing is available.
AHCA Chief Medical Officer David Gifford, M.D., said the additional testing will help get “staff back into the buildings quickly” and help providers resolve and respond to any suspected cases in residents.
“Our top priority now is making sure the virus does not enter into any of our nursing homes and assisted living [facilities] because we know the elderly are very susceptible to this and complications from that. Should it get into the facility, [our priority is then] making sure that it limits the spread to anyone else and that the people who are infected by it are appropriately managed,” Gifford said Friday.
There were more than 600 coronavirus cases — and more than 25 deaths — in the United States as of Monday afternoon.
Life Care Center of Kirkland, the Washington state skilled nursing facility that was the first site of a coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., reported Monday that all residents in the facility have been tested.
The facility received 35 results back. Of the 35, 31 residents tested positive for COVID-19, three were inconclusive and require further testing, and 1 resident tested negative, according to Timothy Killian, the facility’s press liaison.
No employees currently within the facility have been tested yet. Seventy of the facility’s 180 employees have been showing signs of the disease and are currently not working at the facility. Three of those employees have been hospitalized, with one testing positive for COVID-19.