States that prohibit long-term care providers from using rapid, point-of-care antigen testing devices are in violation of federal law, the Department of Health and Human Services warned in October. 

The warning came after Nevada public health officials issued a directive to providers to immediately discontinue use of the tests until further notice due to concerns about false positive results. HHS later sent a letter demanding the state rescind its directive, which it did. 

“Under federal law, Nevada may not prohibit or effectively prohibit such testing at congregate facilities,” HHS Assistant Secretary Admiral Brett Giroir, M.D.,  said. 

“I encourage all nursing homes in Nevada and throughout the country to adhere to [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’] standards for testing your staff, and if you need to use point-of-care antigen tests to do that, you should proceed,” he added. 

Other states have also expressed skepticism about the testing equipment. A report found that multiple states are primarily using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing in long-term care facilities due to the associated challenges with the point-of-care tests.