Why Texas has started testing nursing homes for COVID-19

Posted at 5:22 PM, May 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-26 19:54:35-04

GATESVILLE, TX — COVID-19 testing has begun at nursing homes across Texas after an order from Governor Abbott.

Data from the Texas Department of State Health Services shows more than 3,000 Texas nursing home residents have tested positive for the new coronavirus, which is why state leaders ordered testing at all nursing homes.

Among the 311 nursing homes with confirmed cases, 3,011 residents tested positive and 490 died.

Another 494 residents recovered at 112 assisted living facilities in Texas with at least one confirmed coronavirus case, 382 residents tested positive for the virus and 95 died.

Coryell Health tested its nursing home residents shortly after the order came out.

"So we did our testing late last week, and we've actually been doing some testing for other organizations, other skilled nursing facilities in the area," said Carly Latham of Coryell Health.

Since Coryell can collect its own samples, it can get results a little faster.

In some areas, local fire department will help.

Latham says everyone gets tested with a special emphasis on employees.

"You know, employees are the ones that leaving and coming in and out of the facility, we're still not allowing any visitors and so we just have to make sure the staff isn't bringing it in, and that it's not spreading resident to resident," she said.

Coryell found no infections at its facilities, but says the testing really aims to find those infected without knowing it.

"We're looking for that asymptomatic carrier so we want to know if they go around and they don't know they have it, we really identify that as one of the most dangerous points of this disease," said Latham.

She says testing won't stop here, it will continue at regular intervals, until state leaders say it's safe to stop.

"Regular testing is gonna make sick people, safer, so really the more often that we're able to do it, the better," she said.

Texas has no timeline on when it expects to complete this first round of statewide nursing home testing, but with 150,000 nursing home workers, and 80,000 residents, it will take a while.