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North Carolina health officials launch testing initiative for nursing homes

There are over 400 nursing homes in the state with approximately 36,000 residents and more than 30,000 staff.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is partnering with Omnicare, a CVS Health company, to make facility-wide testing available to residents and staff in all North Carolina skilled nursing facilities. 

According to officials, there are over 400 nursing homes in the state with about 36,000 residents and more than 30,000 staff. Testing will begin in July and will continue through August.

“We are using every tool we have to respond to COVID-19,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D. “Building on North Carolina’s early and aggressive actions to protect residents who live in long-term care settings, DHHS will pay for proactive testing of staff and residents in all nursing homes to slow the spread of COVID-19.”  

North Carolina health officials have already recommended that nursing homes with one or more cases test all staff and residents. 

NC DHHS believes this initiative will further makes testing available to all nursing homes to conduct a baseline test of all residents and staff.

“While testing is a key component of our COVID-response strategy, it is important to remember that the actions we take as a result of that testing are most important,” said NCDHHS Section Chief of Chronic Disease and Injury, Susan Kansagra, M.D., MBA. “Testing will enable our skilled nursing facilities to identify positive cases earlier and better determine additional infection prevention and control measures necessary to contain spread.”

CVS Health will bill insurance as possible, and NCDHHS will cover any additional costs for testing, NC DHHS reports. Facilities should continue to follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for repeat testing and work with community and private vendors to support ongoing testing needs. 

Tuesday's new cases is below average for the last 14 days, but hospitalizations linked to coronavirus are again up, with 908 people being treated statewide. According to DHHS, 1,343 people in North Carolina have died from COVID-19. Tuesday's update from DHHS indicates that 9% of people tested for coronavirus are possible for the virus.

Face masks are now mandatory in North Carolina after Governor Roy Cooper's executive order took effect at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 26. Masks are required in public areas such as supermarkets and stores. It's still unclear how the order will be enforced as multiple local law enforcement agencies said they would not police Cooper's mandate. 

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