NYC to Provide Virus Tests, Fill-In Staff at Nursing Homes

NEW YORK (AP) -
new york nursing homes coronavirus
A staff member outside a Brooklyn nursing home last month. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

New York City will offer free coronavirus tests at the city’s 169 nursing homes and will provide staff to replace nursing home employees who test positive for the virus, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday.

“To me this comes down to, the seniors in our lives, what they have given us, what they mean to us, and what we owe to them, what we owe to them in terms of making sure they are healthy, making sure they are safe, always being there for them,” de Blasio said.

The announcement comes after some 3,000 residents of nursing homes in the city have died of COVID-19, including those confirmed whose diagnoses were by lab tests and those for whom COVID-19 was the presumed cause based on symptoms.

De Blasio noted that the state is in charge of regulating nursing homes but said the city would start a “two-week blitz” to provide up to 3,000 tests a day to residents and employees at the facilities.

He said the city has already sent 240 fill-in staff members to replace nursing home employees who tested positive for the virus and must stay home for two weeks. The city will fulfill additional staffing requests by the end of next week, he said.

Additionally, 10 “outbreak response teams” will be available to assist nursing homes and adult care facilities that are experiencing coronavirus flareups, de Blasio said.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on May 10 ordered twice-weekly testing for all staffers at nursing homes and other adult care facilities. The order doesn’t apply to residents.