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All nursing home patients and staff to be tested for COVID-19, daunting task for Florida

The Trump Administration wants more than a million nursing home patients and staff tested for coronavirus in the next two weeks.

It’s a daunting task when you consider just how many of these facilities we have here in Florida.

There are 41 nursing homes in Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties; that translates to about 4,000 people who need to be tested for COVID-19 in the next 14 days.

Vice President Mike Pence believes this is the best chance to reduce the death toll from the virus outbreak.

Florida’s Department of Health will be in charge of this new testing called for by the vice president.

The National Guard, currently carrying out testing at CenturyLink Sports Complex, says they will assist in the process, but it will be very different than what we see there.

At CenturyLink, the guard is testing 700 people a day thanks to limited interaction between people who are in their cars and the tester.

In SWFL’s 41 nursing homes, testing teams will have to decontaminate and change their masks, gowns and gloves every time they change rooms.

The state has already tested people in some nursing homes but won’t say which ones.

The big question is, can the state actually get everyone tested in the next couple of weeks?

It would take at least five teams testing 50-60 people a day to get it done, but that’s in a perfect world. For example, testing bed-ridden people would take longer, slowing the process down.

We asked the health department for a timeline on how they hope to get the job done, but we have not heard back.

RESOURCES

Reporter:Rich Kolko
Writer:Briana Harvath
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