South Dakota would be required to test nursing home staff as part of federal 5% positive COVID-19 rate measure

KELOLAND.com Original

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Department Of Health is working with federal officials on the Trump Administration’s requirement to conduct weekly coronavirus testing of all nursing home staff in states with a coronavirus percentage positive rate of 5% or more, said DOH secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees long-term care facilities in the U.S., said in a July 22 news release that required testings for states with COVID-19 positive rates of 5% and other measures are needed because of the increase in coronavirus cases around the U.S.

South Dakota’s COVID-19 percentage positive rate for the past 14 days was 6.7% and 6.8% for the past seven days as of Aug. 6. The cumulative percentage positive rate was 7.3%. The state’s positive rates are based on the number of positive cases as related to the total number of tests. The total number of tests includes individuals tested more than once.

“We are currently working with federal partners to advocate that that recommendation be implemented relative to counties that nursing homes would be in…,” Malsam-Rysdon said in the Aug. 6 DOH news briefing. Data shows that the transmission and number of cases of COVID-19 differ in counties in the state, she said.

“We don’t think a one-size-fits-all approach relative to test positivity is going to be very effective being applied across the state,” Malsam-Rysdon said.

The Trump Administration’s plan for long term care facilities coincides with the U.S. Health and Human Services’ plan to provide rapid COVID-19 testing equipment to nursing homes in the U.S.

“More than 15,000 testing devices will be deployed over the next few months to help support this mandate, with over 600 devices shipping this week, the CMS news release said on July 22.

Malsam-Rysdon said three nursing homes in South Dakota were scheduled to receive the testing equipment soon.

Funds from the Provider Relief Fund can also be used to pay for additional testing of visitors, the CMS said. The CARES Act money distributed $4.9 billion in Provider Relief Fund money to offset losses related to COVID-19 at nursing homes and another $5 billion will be distributed to help with more infection control and other measures, according to the CDC.

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