This undated file photo provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows CDC’s laboratory test kit for the new coronavirus. Courtesy photo

This undated file photo provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows CDC’s laboratory test kit for the new coronavirus. Courtesy photo

Inslee wants nursing home residents and staff tested by June 12

Governor says state will pay for test kits and personal protective equipment.

Nursing homes and many assisted living facilities across the state will finally get blanket testing for the new coronavirus under an order that Gov. Jay Inslee issued May 28.

Per the order, tests must be offered to everyone living in a nursing home by June 12 and all residents of certain assisted living facilities by June 26.

Inslee is also requiring that all staff members in those facilities be tested unless an employee gives medical justification from a health care provider declining a test.

The state will provide free test kits and personal protective equipment for administering the tests to every facility. The massive effort is expected to cost $1.5 million for nursing homes alone.

“This is going to protect some of our most vulnerable residents,” Inslee said during a news conference.

The announcement is a victory for the state’s long-term care facilities, many of which have been especially hard-hit by the virus because of residents’ advanced age and underlying health conditions.

If a facility does not receive enough test kits or protective gear, it must use every test it can safely administer and notify the state Department of Health. Otherwise, it will be considered in violation of the order.

Facilities aren’t obligated to pay laboratories for the tests. Instead, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Washington’s Health Care Authority will pay for tests performed on all residents and staff who are covered by Medicare or Medicaid, and the state will pay for the rest, the order says.

Assisted living facilities that don’t have a memory care unit are not covered under the order. State officials chose to focus testing efforts on facilities with those units because residents there tend to wander and move around more on a daily basis, which increases the risk of infection, said Secretary of Health John Wiesman.

State officials are developing plans for widespread testing at assisted living facilities without memory care units and adult family homes, Wiesman said. They’re also considering options for interval testing at long-term care facilities to track new infections over time.

Nursing home industry advocates have for weeks pushed for broad testing at long-term care facilities, saying it’s the only way to truly understand how widely the virus is spreading.

A lack of testing supplies limited the state’s ability to do so, Inslee said. Meanwhile, research has illustrated how people who are infected often spread COVID-19 without showing symptoms, he added.

“Had we had additional testing capacity, I think we could have done these things earlier, but that’s been a great limitation,” Inslee said. “Both the science has improved, and the testing supplies have improved.”

Facilities that have completed a COVID-19 point prevalence survey of residents and staff since the beginning of April are not subject to the order, Inslee said, because they’ve already done widespread testing.

Statewide, there were 3,728 COVID-19 cases and 667 deaths linked to long-term care facilities as of Tuesday.

But “thankfully,” the state has seen a decrease in outbreaks at such facilities in the past month to six weeks, said Wiesman.

“We are looking forward to these results and learning just how much asymptomatic infection we might have in a facility,” he said.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

Jeff Duchin, Seattle - King County Public Health officer, said when considering whether to wear a mask indoors in public spaces, people should understand their risk based on local coronavirus activity and make decisions based on their own risk tolerance. (Getty images)
Should you keep masking up if you’re vaccinated?

Think about it, says King County’s top doctor.

Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance
Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance

Nonprofits, activists are expecting greater need as workers are laid off.

Release of claims contract signed after incident by James Dainard on behalf of Heaton-Dainard, LLC. (photo credit: Cameron Sheppard)
Equity skimming: Tale of a local home sale and a lawsuit

Former ‘wholesale finder’ says he was thrown under bus by the prominent real estate investors.

(Pixabay.com)
As rates of stoned drivers increase, law enforcement face challenges

WSP trooper said a THC breathalyzer would be a “game changer” for law enforcement and courts.

E. coli. Photo courtesy of the Food and Drug Administration
Seven King County children sickened with E. coli

Seven children in King County have been infected with E. coli, a… Continue reading

Sound Publishing file photo
Remi Frederick, a Village Green employee, receives her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Jan. 26 in Federal Way.
County health officer looks to community immunity instead of herd immunity

Herd immunity may be unlikely to reach King County anytime soon, but… Continue reading

Washington state case count since March 2020. WA Governor's Office
Pandemic pause: King County remains in Phase 3

No Washington state counties will be rolling back their phase under the… Continue reading

Courtesy of the Washington State Department of Health
Inslee sets June 30 target for Washington to fully reopen

Meanwhile, fully vaccinated people can stop wearing masks in most places, the federal CDC said.

Matt Marshall, leader of the Washington Three Percenters gun rights group, addresses a crowd rallying for Second Amendment rights Jan. 17, 2020, at the state Capitol in Olympia. File photo
Open-carry of weapons now illegal at state Capitol, rallies

A new law bars people from carrying guns within 250 feet of a permitted demonstration.

Most Read