Study: 30% of nursing facilities in COVID-19 ‘hot spots’ wait 3 days or more for test results

Oct. 30 (UPI) — Nearly one-third of skilled nursing facilities situated in COVID-19 hot spots across the United States still are waiting three days or more for virus test results for staff and residents as of the end of September, according to a report published Friday by JAMA Internal Medicine.

Nationally, just under 40% of all of these facilities — which including residential and rehabilitation centers staffed with nurses, physical and occupational therapists, speech pathologists and audiologists — indicated that it took three days or more to receive COVID-19 test results for residents and staff, the data showed.

The findings were as of Sept. 27, or more than two months after Medicare began to distribute rapid, point-of-care tests to generate results in one day or less to these facilities, the researchers said.

While the number of facilities receiving test results in a day or less doubled in some areas during September, researchers say the progress is not sufficient enough.

“Rapid testing turnaround is critical to prevent outbreaks in nursing homes — and elsewhere — but only a tiny fraction of homes have access to turnaround that is less than one day,” study co-author Dr. Michael L. Barnett told UPI.

“With slower turnaround, staff with COVID-19 and no symptoms will circulate in a facility and spread infection before the positive test comes back,” said Barnett, assistant professor of health policy and management at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health.

Nursing homes and assisted-living facilities across the country were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the spring, accounting for 40% of all virus-related deaths nationally, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

As a result, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began to distribute “rapid” virus testing kits to these facilities in July. The tests could be administered on-site and provide results in one day or less, agency officials said.

The agency requires facilities located in areas with low rates — less than 5% — of COVID-19 transmission to test residents and staff members monthly.

However, those based in hot spots — with up to 10% or more of virus transmission — should be testing staff and residents at least twice weekly, according to officials.

For this analysis, Barnett and his colleagues analyzed data from 15,065 — or 98% — of the skilled nursing facilities included in the Medicare COVID-19 Nursing Home Database. The database is a federally mandated weekly assessment of all Medicare-certified facilities, to examine facility-reported test result turnaround time.

As of Sept. 27, 14% of all facilities nationally said they received COVID-19 test results for staff members in one day or less, up from 6.2% three weeks earlier, the data showed.

By that same date, 10% of facilities reported getting test results for residents in one day or less, an increase from 5% earlier in the month.

In “hot spot counties” — with high rates of community spread of the virus — the number of facilities that reported test turnaround of one day or

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Utah hospitals Covid: Proposed critera would ration health care at overwhelmed facilities

A group of administrators representing Utah’s hospitals presented Gov. Gary Herbert with a list of “criteria they propose doctors should use if they are forced to decide which patients can stay in overcrowded intensive care units,” The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

They told Herbert that they’d need to put the criteria in place if the coronavirus trend continues, Greg Bell, president of the Utah Hospital Association, told the Tribune.

To triage care, the proposal would take into account a patient’s age, health, situation and ability to survive, Bell told CNN affiliate KUTV on Sunday night.

“At the end of the day, some senior person, versus some healthy young person, probably would not get the nod,” Bell said.

Bell said Utah is suffering from a “phenomenal case growth and spread rate” of Covid-19.

The state reported more than 1,000 new cases per day for the last 12 days. On Sunday, Utah had its highest seven-day average for new daily cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 104,882 people in Utah have been infected with coronavirus, and at least 572 people have died.

Track the virus in your state and across the US

Even before a formal rationing of health care, one Utah mother who suffered a heart attack was delayed in getting adequate treatment due to the Covid-19 surge.

Researchers: Bad national Covid-19 response meant at least 130,000 US deaths could have been avoided
Laurie Terry needed special equipment in a hospital’s intensive care unit. But a doctor told the family there weren’t enough resources available amid the growing Covid-19 surge.

Eventually, Terry was taken to a hospital that had the specialized care she needed, but her condition has gotten worse.

“We’ve seen, in the past couple of weeks, that our health care system is at capacity,” state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said.

“I don’t know what to do anymore,” she said. “I’m really not trying to scare anyone. I’m just trying to inform you of what’s going on and give you the facts.”

Herbert had one wish for the public:

“I would hope that people will take this seriously,” the governor said.

CNN’s Holly Yan and Martin Savidge contributed to this report.

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While all gyms are included in COVID-19 shutdowns, not all fitness facilities are the same

Karume Mrusha works out at Hone Fitness in Toronto on July 31, 2020.


It’s a problem I’m glad someone else is responsible for solving – how exactly do you protect people from a mysterious and deadly airborne virus without ruining the economy and stomping all over civil liberties? This is the COVID-19 conundrum in a nutshell.

When the Ontario government announced renewed lockdown restrictions for Toronto, Ottawa and Peel regions at the beginning of October, gyms were placed front and centre in the firing line. All indoor fitness facilities – along with casinos, cinemas, performing-arts venues and indoor dining establishments – were ordered closed by the Premier’s office until at least early November, a desperate attempt by officials to quell the rising case numbers in the province after a quiet and hopeful summer.

Not five minutes after this announcement was made, my Instagram feed began to look like something like a libertarian activist forum. Most of the grumbling came from gym owners who were upset about the prospect of losing another month’s business. Then came the armchair virologists whose amateur opinions amount to a “survival of the fittest” argument.

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My scope of practice as a personal trainer excludes me from making any statements on COVID-19 outside of what medical experts are already saying, but I do want to address, from an insider’s perspective, the issue of gyms being shuttered.

Why gyms should be included in the lockdown

By now you’ve likely heard about the Hamilton-based spin studio that’s at the centre of a massive COVID-19 outbreak. Eighty cases have so far been linked to SpinCo, though it’s feared this number could easily reach 100. It’s believed that “patient zero” was asymptomatic, a common and insidious feature of COVID-19 infections.

This case presents an obvious and important question: How can businesses in which groups of people gather together under one roof operate safely when basic screening measures are essentially useless?

The answer is just as obvious. They can’t. According to SpinCo staff, class capacity was cut by 50 per cent, from 43 riders to 21, and each bike was buffered by a six-foot radius. The problem is the very nature of the activity members are paying to participate in. Picture a spin class in action (this thought experiment works just as well if you substitute a kettlebell class, kickboxing or any HIIT-style class). The exertion level is high. Lots of heavy breathing. Lots of spit and sweat, lots of speaking moistly. Distancing protocols mean nothing in these environments.

It’s a tough spot for fitness businesses to be in, and my heart goes out to all gym owners struggling to stay afloat. Take your classes outside while you still can, apply for federal relief if you qualify, and ride out the storm with the rest of the world.


There’s a common misconception among people who don’t exercise that all exercise is the same, that a gym is a gym is a gym. This is like

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Trump Administration Announced Vaccine Distribution Deal With CVS, Walgreens For Care Facilities


  • The Trump administration on Friday announced a deal with CVS and Walgreens to administer COVID-19 vaccines to long-term care facilities
  • The vaccine will be free for all residents and staff members in long-term care facilities
  • Johnson & Johnson’s late-stage coronavirus vaccine was paused after a participant reported an adverse effect

The Trump administration on Friday announced a deal with CVS and Walgreens to administer COVID-19  vaccines to long-term care facilities when a safe vaccine is produced.

The vaccine will be free for all residents and staff members in long-term care facilities, including skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and residential care homes, the Department of Health and Human Services said in a press release.

CVS and Walgreens will coordinate on-site inoculation dates with each facility. The companies anticipate that three total visits over two months are likely to be needed to administer both doses of vaccine to residents and staff, the agency said.

“Protecting the vulnerable has been the number one priority of the Trump Administration’s response to COVID-19, and that commitment will continue through distributing a safe and effective vaccine earliest to those who need it most,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma said the deal will ensure that nursing home residents, which have been hit hard by the virus, “are at the front of the line for the COVID vaccine and will bring their grueling trial to a close as swiftly as possible.”

The announcement comes the same day states must submit their draft plans to the federal government on how they will distribute a coronavirus vaccine if and when one is approved for public use.

Most of the potential vaccines require two doses, although Johnson & Johnson’s requires just one shot, and some of them need to be transported and stored at varying and specific temperatures.

Most notably, Johnson & Johnson’s late-stage coronavirus vaccine was paused after a participant reported an adverse effect, the company’s chief financial officer said Tuesday.

The pause will allow the data and safety monitoring board to thoroughly investigate the unexplained illness, CFO Joseph Wolk said in an interview on CNBC.

“We’re letting safety protocol follow the proper procedure here,” he said, adding that pauses in trials are “not uncommon.”

“What it should also do is reassure the public that every scientific, medical and ethical standard is being applied here,” Wolk added.

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