W.Va. reveals nursing-home test results

Published: May. 20, 2020 at 5:44 AM EDT
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The first state in the nation to test all nursing-home patients and staff members has completed the task.

According to State Health Officer Dr. Cathy Slemp, 22,598 people at 123 nursing homes were tested, including 8,911 residents and 13,687 staff members.

After outbreaks, which are defined as two or more cases according to Dr. Slemp, at eight nursing homes around the state, Gov. Jim Justice ordered the testing of the members of the most vulnerable population.

According to a news release: “At the time of the testing, six percent of facilities already had COVID-19 cases identified. The initiative resulted in new identification of 28 facilities with at least one individual positive for COVID-19.”

New cases of COVID-19 was more common among staff. The tests revealed 31 positive tests among staff members an 11 among residents. According to the news release: 64 percent of facilities had only staff test positive at initial testing. In the majority of these (20 facilities, 87%), the new finding was a single positive resident or staff person (14 staff, 6 residents).

In eight facilities, newly identified positive cases resulted in new outbreaks (two or more cases in residents or staff). Staff were involved more than residents (17 staff; 5 residents). Of these outbreaks, six have had no additional cases.”

Marty Wright the CEO of the West Virginia Health Care Association said in a statement Tuesday:

“We are very encouraged by the nursing home test results that were announced today. Though the results only provide a snapshot of the COVID-19 impact on our nursing homes, the results certainly demonstrate that the aggressive proactive measures implemented by nursing homes have proven effective. As reflected in the results, only 0.18% of nursing home residents and employees tested (42 individuals of nearly 24,000 tested) were found to be new positive cases for the virus. Most of the individuals that tested positive were asymptomatic.

"We fully recognize that these results do not indicate a victory and that we must remain vigilant in our efforts to protect our residents and staff. Nevertheless, our frontline healthcare workers are to be celebrated for their successes in the war they continue to wage against this formidable virus.”

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