Nursing home group wants more coronavirus testing

An early coronavirus test site set up in April, 2020 at Rhode Island College. File photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A nursing home trade group is calling for increased coronavirus testing of patients, doctors, nurses, and other people who come and go from Rhode Island’s nursing homes.

In the spring, someone going from a hospital to a nursing home needed to test negative twice before being admitted, but the state cut that back to one negative test in August, the Rhode Island Health Care Association said Monday.

The group wants more rigorous testing.

“Bringing an unknown COVID positive patient through our doors to be quarantined puts residents and staff at risk as it raises the risk of spread in the home,” Scott Fraser, the association’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

The state argues that because someone coming from a hospital needs to quarantine for 14 days anyway, a second negative test isn’t necessary.

Joseph Wendelken, a spokesman for the state Department of Health, told The Providence Journal that the quarantine rule — 14 days when entering a long-term care facility from a hospital — “has always been the most effective way” to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

About 70% of Rhode Island’s roughly 1,300 virus-related deaths have been nursing home residents.