Florida is working towards increased coronavirus testing for nursing home employees. This comes after the realization that the elderly and ill would be most at risk for death, based on data collected about the new virus over the last several months.
Governor orders bi weekly coronavirus testing at all Florida nursing homes
The announcement came after a possible resurgence in coronavirus cases, which could devastate Florida’s large nursing home population. Governor DeSantis issued an order that said workers in any nursing home or assisted living facility would be required to be tested every two weeks, regardless of whether they showed symptoms or appeared to be sick. A facility that refuses to follow this rule could have its license revoked, suspended, or face financial penalties.
The governor said that this surveillance style testing should be more effective than simply relying on the results of one test for each individual and reacting based on that result. It is possible that workers can test negative and then pick up the virus within the following days. There are over 3800 facilities in the state that will be affected by this new testing regimen.
The day before the announcement was made, data showed that about 4,000 residents and about 2,500 employees in the state’s facilities were currently positive for COVID-19. Many of these residents were transferred out of the homes where they contracted the virus.
Florida had already banned outside visitors from nursing homes months earlier, and it does not seem like these restrictions will end anytime soon. At the time of the news report, it had been over 100 days since residents were able to receive any kind of in person visits. There was no timeframe given by the governor for when these restrictions would end.
When these new rules take effect, employees will not be able to return to work in nursing homes until they have been screened for the virus. However, there are concerns about possible delays in testing that may leave some patients with serious health problems without adequate care.
Nursing homes are legally responsible for their patients
The civil law imposes a duty of care on all nursing homes and similar facilities. There are inspections from regulatory agencies to enforce guidelines related to cleanliness and staff training. They must protect residents from infections due to viruses and bacteria, as well as create a safe environment where physical abuse, neglect, and exploitation will not occur. When a facility violates this standard of care, they may be sued and subjected to other conditions to ensure more incidents do not happen.
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