Sen. Scott Presses HHS To Ramp Up Testing in Long-Term Care Facilities
Staff Report From South Carolina CEO
Thursday, April 30th, 2020
As reports from around the nation and world continue to show the danger of COVID-19 spread in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) wrote letters to both U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster regarding testing plans for these providers and their patients.
In writing to Secretary Azar, the Senator stated, “I ask that you prioritize, among other areas, rapid point-of-care testing capacity for long-term care facilities and other providers serving disproportionately older Americans, as well as expanded testing access for communities of color and populations with a high prevalence of underlying health conditions…According to data released last week, up to 50% of COVID-19-related fatalities in Europe were residents of long-term care facilities. In the U.S., the Kaiser Family Foundation recently reported that, among states that reported relevant data points, long-term care facility residents and staff accounted for roughly 27% of COVID- 19-related deaths and 11% of cases. In six states, fatalities in these facilities made up more than half of all deaths attributed to COVID-19. Fortunately, emerging research suggests that more proactive testing policies and enhanced access could meaningfully reduce these unnerving figures.”
To Governor McMaster, Scott wrote, “As you continue to develop and implement plans for reopening South Carolina’s economy in the coming weeks and months, scaling up our state’s testing capacity will undoubtedly play a crucial role in mapping out and navigating the road to recovery. While gaps remain, I applaud the work of your administration, the S.C. Public Health Laboratory, private labs, and healthcare providers throughout the state in substantially expanding testing initiatives thus far… As you strategize how best to allocate the testing-focused funding and supplies that you receive, I ask that you prioritize, among other areas, rapid point-of-care testing capacity for long-term care facilities and other providers serving disproportionately older South Carolinians, as well as expanded testing access for communities of color and populations with a high prevalence of underlying health conditions.”