Brown announces coronavirus testing plan for long-term care facilities

Gov. Kate Brown announced Tuesday that Oregon will be implementing a comprehensive coronavirus testing plan to protect the residents and staff of long-term care facilities, prioritizing those facilities at greatest risk for outbreaks.

“From the beginning of this pandemic, it has been one of my top priorities to protect the residents and staff of long-term care facilities,” Brown said in a release. “We took early and swift action to enact some of the strictest visitation policies in the country in the first days of Oregon’s outbreak. I know it has been incredibly hard for residents and their families to not be able to see their loved ones. But even with those protocols in place, the residents of long-term care facilities are particularly at high risk for serious illness and death due to this disease.

“I have directed the Oregon Health Authority and the Department of Human Services to implement a plan to test all residents and staff of long-term care facilities, starting with the facilities at highest-risk. Expanding testing is an essential first step that will allow us to examine how visitation policies can be safely and incrementally eased.”

Full details of the plan will be released by the Oregon Health Authority and the Department of Human Services later this week, Brown said.

Public health officials will also be working with long-term care facilities to implement recommended best practices for ongoing monitoring, including:

  • Conducting active daily screenings for fever and COVID-like symptoms for all residents and staff, providing testing for any residents or staff with even mild symptoms. Residents who test positive should be isolated.
  • Providing testing for all staff every month on a staggered weekly basis, with the goal of having 25% of all staff tested each week over the course of the month.
  • Providing testing for all residents and staff if there is a single new confirmed or suspected resident case or a confirmed staff case, and retesting weekly until at least 14 days pass without a new positive result. Residents who test positive and are symptomatic should be isolated.
  • Testing all new residents prior to admission or readmission, including transfers from hospitals or other health care facilities. Even new residents who test negative should be quarantined for 14 days.

Oregon’s long-term care facilities house about 31,000 residents and employ about 29,000 staff—about 60,000 people in all.

As of June 9, 16 of Oregon’s 688 large long-term care facilities had current confirmed COVID-19 cases, down from a recent peak of 27 facilities.

At no point during the pandemic have more than 4 percent of Oregon’s long-term care facilities reported having an active confirmed case of COVID-19 among residents or staff.

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