A new order issued by state health officials will require all skilled nursing homes to test all residents for COVID-19. The order supersedes a previous one issued by Los Angeles County officials that would have tested far fewer people.
"Nursing home residents, and the healthcare personnel who care for them, are among our most vulnerable COVID-19 infections,'' Dr. Mark Ghaly, California's health and human services Secretary, told the Los Angeles Times. "Mandatory testing will provide the knowledge we all need to make informed care decisions."
The L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to hire an independent inspector general to investigate the county's oversight of nursing homes in the region.
“What’s been most frustrating for me is that time and time again, when we listen to the death count that this horrible virus has caused, all roads lead back to our skilled nursing facilities,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger before the vote.
An analysis by the L.A. Times conducted earlier this month found that about half of all deaths related to COVID-19 have occurred in skilled nursing or assisted living facilities.
The state's new order issued this week calls for all such facilities to test all residents and staff at least once. The state's order allows those homes that show no cases to reduce the number of tests it conducts to 25% of residents and healthcare workers. All staff members must be tested at least once per month.
Nearly 1,000 people living in nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities have died in L.A. County alone, accounting for about half of all coronavirus deaths in the region.
Rules adopted by the county earlier this week would have allowed nursing homes with no cases to skip testing their staff and only test 10 percent of their occupants every week.
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