HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine, announced Thursday new recommendations for nursing home facilities in the state.
For nursing homes with zero cases, the department is using a low, moderate, and substantial activity level testing strategy.
“Facilities in a county with a low activity level are recommended to test asymptomatic
staff every four weeks,” Levine said.
Facilities in counties with a moderate level, asymptomatic staff will be tested once a week. Residents with outside contact will also be tested weekly.
Staff working in facilities in counties with a substantial level count are recommended to be tested twice a week.
“We know that Covid-19 enters the facility through the dedicated and brave and courageous staff, who are asymptomatic and to no fault of their own, bring it into the facility,” Levine said.
She also announced that compassionate caregivers, such as family, friends, or a volunteer who improve a resident’s mental and physical health can now go into facilities. Compassionate caregivers must provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test result within the past seven days, undergo a temperature screening, and wear a mask while inside the facility.
When asked about the potential distribution of a coronavirus vaccine as early as October, Levine says a vaccine is critically important for the fight against the virus.
“In discussion with other state health officials, we feel better if a vaccine has completed it’s stage three trials, and that it completes all the testing for safety and effectiveness. And that is usually what we would expect from a vaccine and what we are expecting from this vaccine,” Levine said.