Lamont orders coronavirus testing of nursing home workers

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By Paul Hughes, Republican-American

HARTFORD — Gov. Ned Lamont on Monday ordered workers at the state’s 215 nursing homes be regularly tested for coronavirus disease.

The governor’s latest executive order also requires weekly testing of staff at publicly- and privately-managed residential communities and assisted living facilities throughout the state.

The directive states that the testing of nursing home employees will commence no later than June 14. Testing at residential communities and assisted living facilities will start two weeks later.

Nursing homes in Connecticut employ 32,550 staff members, and assisted living facilities employ 5,737 staff members, according to the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living.

“We will be among the first states to require that now on a weekly basis, given that that is really going to be so critical to protecting our most vulnerable citizens going forward,” said Josh Geballe, Lamont’s chief operating officer.

Required testing of staff comes after test kits have now been delivered to every nursing home in the state in order to test all of the residents, Lamont said.

The weekly tests will be required for the duration of the public health and civil preparedness emergencies that Lamont declared March 10 in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The current emergency declarations are due to expire on Sept. 10.

The executive order’s definition of staff includes administrators, medical staff, employees, per diem staff, contractors with a regular presence in the facility, private duty patient or resident contracted individuals, dietary, laundry and housekeeping personnel, and volunteers

NURSING HOME PATIENTS are one of the most vulnerable and hardest hit populations in the COVID-19 pandemic.

The latest weekly statistics that were released last week showed 8,832 out of 21,235 residents had tested positive for COVID-19. At that time, there had been at least one laboratory-confirmed case reported in 167 nursing homes.

Nursing home patients represent approximately 60% for the coronavirus-associated deaths.

Through Monday, there have been 3,964 coronavirus-associated deaths statewide. The latest nursing home statistics from last week listed 1,884 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 among nursing home patients and another 554 probable deaths. There were another 240 confirmed deaths among residents of assisted living facilities and 87 probable deaths.

THE LAMONT ADMINISTRATION released statistics Monday on the number of hospital admissions, discharges and deaths.

Nearly, three-quarters of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 have been discharged. There have been 9,559 patients admitted to the state’s 27 acute care hospitals, and there have been 7,124 patients discharged.

The Department of Public Health reported that there have been 1,981 deaths of hospitalized patients — roughly 50% of the overall coronavirus-associated deaths that were reported through Monday.

Since Sunday, hospitalizations declined by a net 27 patients between new admissions and discharges to 424. The peak in hospital totals was 1,962 on April 22.

Public health officials reported Monday that there have been 40,670 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19, plus another 2,070 probable cases. This was the first time test results were broken out this way. Previously, a combined total was reported.

The Department of Public Health made the reporting change in response to new guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Geballe said.

Probable cases of COVID-19 involve persons who have not had a laboratory tests for COVID-19, but exhibit symptoms that indicate they are very likely to have a coronavirus infection.

Through Monday, there have been 259,320 diagnostic tests done, though this figure includes multiple tests of the same patient or specimen.

LOCALLY, THE NAUGATUCK VALLEY HEALTH DISTRICT reported there have been 367 laboratory-confirmed cases in Naugatuck and 42 in Beacon Falls as of Monday. There have been 31 confirmed and two unconfirmed deaths associated with COVID-19 in Naugatuck, according to the health district. The health district hasn’t reported any deaths associated with coronavirus in Beacon Falls.

The Chesprocott Health District reported there have been 61 COVID-19 cases in Prospect as of Friday and no coronavirus-related deaths.

Elio Gugliotti contributed to this report.