US Nursing Homes Lack Access to Prompt COVID-19 Diagnoses

By Reuters Staff

November 20, 2020

(Reuters) - Most U.S. nursing homes still cannot get prompt results of COVID-19 tests of staff and residents, new data suggest.

As reported in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers received responses from more than 15,000 skilled nursing facilities to the question: In the past two weeks, on average how long did it take you to receive COVID-19 test results?

Only 14% of respondents said they get results of PCR tests back in less than one day, while 40% said it took at least three days to get results.

Study co-author Dr. Michael Barnett of the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health called that "an unacceptably slow turnaround."

This was true "even among homes in hotspot counties supplied with rapid testing machines from the federal government, which implies that these machines are not helping nursing homes with the rapid turnaround they need," he told Reuters.

Nursing homes account for more than 40% of U.S. COVID-19 deaths, he noted. "Our results show that despite knowing about this vulnerability for a long time, nursing homes still lack the basic capacity to screen staff effectively to prevent new COVID-19 outbreaks."

SOURCE: JAMA Internal Medicine, October 30, 2020.