Arizona To Start COVID-19 Testing Assisted Living Facilities

Published: Friday, July 17, 2020 - 8:31am
Updated: Friday, July 17, 2020 - 8:36am

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to spike in Arizona, and the population hardest hit are older adults living in long-term care facilities.

There has been some testing, but not enough. And residents and staff in the state’s roughly 2,500 assisted living facilities have yet to be tested at all. But that could change.

The state of Arizona awarded Phoenix-based Vestra Labs a contract to provide testing in the state’s 148 Medicare-certified skilled nursing homes.

A spokesperson for Vestra also confirmed that it will start testing at assisted living centers in the coming days. That news comes 18 weeks after many long-term care facilities closed their doors to in-person visitation.

What is unclear is how often facilities will test staff. Public health experts say there needs to be regular testing with rapid results, as well as adequate personal protective equipment and sufficient staffing to help curb the spread of the virus.

Dr. Cara Christ is the head of the Arizona Department of Health Services. She spoke to KJZZ's The Show about testing on Thursday.

"So we're currently working with the assisted living facilities to get their staff and residents tested. We are in the discussions about whether or not that can be an ongoing thing," said Christ.

Earlier this week, the federal government said it would send testing kits for COVID-19 to all skilled nursing homes in the county. That initiative, however, leaves out Arizona’s 2,500 assisted living facilities.

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