Inslee announces state’s long-term care testing plan

Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday announced the state’s plan to begin broad testing within long-term care facilities .

The state Department of Health issued an order that will require widespread testing. Residents and staff in nursing homes will be tested within approximately two weeks, with a completion goal date of June 12. All residents and staff in assisted living facilities with a memory care unit will be tested within four weeks, with a completion goal date of June 26.

“Residents of long-term care centers are some of our state’s most vulnerable,” Inslee said during a Thursday press conference. “This effort will serve as an invaluable tool to reduce any introduction of COVID-19 into these facilities. Especially as we reopen the state, we must double down on these efforts.”

Facilities that completed a COVID-19 point prevalence survey of residents and staff on or after April 1 will be excluded from this round of testing.

To help in this effort, the state will pay for the cost of the tests and the personal protective equipment (PPE necessary to administer them for staff, which is estimated to total $1.5 million for nursing homes alone. Cost estimates for other facilities are continuing through the Office of Financial Management and other state agencies.

Facilities unable to meet these requirements in the designated time frame must notify the Department of Health to avoid violations of the order.

“It is critical that we test residents and staff in these facilities to understand the scope and magnitude of COVID-19 infections. This work will help protect our most vulnerable friends and family members, and will inform future prevention and control efforts as we continue to respond to this unprecedented pandemic,” said Secretary of Health John Wiesman.

“Testing will be offered at no cost to the facility, residents or staff at every nursing facility and memory care unit in the state,” said Dr. Charissa Fotinos, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the Washington State Health Care Authority.

Read the full order here.

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