Mass testing coming to Pennsylvania nursing homes


HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – This week, Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine is expected to reveal the plan for mass testing at nursing homes.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health reports 69 percent of the state’s coronavirus deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities, but Monday Dr. Levine said Pennsylvania is seeing progress at those facilities now.

“Pennsylvania has a great team working behind the scenes to coordinate our response,” says Gov. Tom Wolf, (D) Pennsylvania.

Monday, Governor Tom Wolf shared with Pennsylvanians what state agencies are continuing to do  in response to the covid-19 crisis.

“PEMA is working hand in hand with the Pennsylvania National Guard on its missions varying from food distribution, to nursing homes, to establishing mass testing sites,” says Wolf.

With regard to nursing homes, Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine stressed how crucial the state’s response to aiding long-term care facilities is.

“We’re going to do everything we possibly can to protect the residents and staff of these long term care living facilities,” says Dr. Rachel Levine, Secretary of Health.

Locally— the Pennsylvania National Guard has assisted long-term care facilities in Lackawanna, Pike, Northampton, and Schuylkill counties.

“We have provided assessment services at up to 13 facilities and staffing assessment at ten,” Colonel Frank Montgomery, PA National Guard.

The National Guard is still working at five long-term care facilities across the state, including Mountain View Care and Rehabilitation Center in Scranton, Lackawanna County, which Eyewitness News first reported on Friday, May 15.

“The challenge is no two nursing homes or long-term care facilities are created equally,” says PEMA Director Randy Padfield.

As of Monday more than 63-thousand Pennsylvanian’s tested positive for COVID-19.

“It also includes 13,626 positive cases among residents of 561 long term care living facilities which include nursing homes and personal care homes,” says Levine.

Both Dr. Levine and Director Padfield agree long-term care facilities fight against COVID-19 is improving, but far from over.

“I think we are seeing progress in long-term care living facilities with all the different measures we have in place,” says Levine.

“In certain other circumstances the outbreak continues to grow and that’s when we usually get the national guard involved we’re also working on coordinating federal support,” says Padfield.

The state’s data on coronavirus deaths by county may look different going forward. The state is now listing nursing home deaths based on the county of that individual’s legal residence. They will also be included in a count of cases attributed to a facility.

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