May. 28, 2020

CENTER – Rep. Josh Kail (R-Beaver/Washington), in a partnership with a colleague from southeastern Pennsylvania, drafted legislation that would ensure all employees and residents in the Commonwealth’s long-term care facilities are tested for COVID-19.

While Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration announced a “robust universal testing strategy” this month, it relies only on voluntary compliance and recommends testing just 20% of staff and residents weekly. The guidance applies only to nursing homes and not personal care homes or assisted living facilities – leaving two-thirds of all long-term care facilities without any motivation to test.

Long-term care facilities serve approximately 123,000 residents with 143,000 employees. The coronavirus has severely impacted Pennsylvania’s senior population as demonstrated by the data surrounding positive cases and deaths associated with long-term care facilities. As of May 10, the Pennsylvania Department of Health reported that approximately 68% of all COVID-19-related deaths occurred in the state’s long-term care facilities.

“If there is one thing that we have learned through this pandemic, it is that we must do better protecting those who are most vulnerable, particularly our seniors in long-term care facilities,” Kail said. “It’s a real shame that universal testing wasn’t used sooner, but now that we know what we know, our seniors must be protected moving forward.”

Recent testing in a congregate care setting in Montgomery County showed 96% of those testing positive for COVID-19 were asymptomatic. Allowing untested, asymptomatic health care workers and long-term care facility residents to continue having contact with one another allows the disease to be passed unknowingly between them.

Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wisconsin have committed to testing all long-term care residents.

“This administration has made strides in implementing universal testing at prisons and protecting vulnerable inmates while failing to protect the most vulnerable Pennsylvanians with the same intensity in nursing homes,” Kail said. “The men and women living in long-term care facilities have been harmed the most by this pandemic, and they need our help also.”

Representative Joshua Kail
15th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Alison Evans
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