Maryland mandates universal COVID-19 testing at nursing homes

Nursing homes in Maryland are required to conduct COVID-19 testing of all residents and staff, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms, per an order issued April 29 by Gov. Larry Hogan.

Nursing homes now account for 19 percent of the state's total number of positive coronavirus cases and 46 percent of the deaths in the state from the virus.

The governor and the state's health department issued several other directives aimed at limiting the spread of the virus in nursing homes, including daily clinical evaluations of residents and developing surge staffing plans.

To bolster surge staffing plans at nursing homes, the state has created new bridge teams, which will provide emergency staffing to nursing homes that have staffing crises. Each bridge team includes a registered nurse and five to seven aides, who can provide care for up to 100 nursing home residents per shift.

The governor also ordered nursing homes to accept help from the state's strike teams, which have provided medical help to more than 80 facilities, according to The Baltimore Sun. There had been reports that some nursing homes had rejected the assistance from the strike teams.

Maryland also expanded its testing capability, after acquiring 500,000 tests from South Korea, the governor said. The state's new expanded testing strategy will focus on high-risk groups and clusters, such as nursing homes and healthcare workers.


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