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Wolf: Nursing home testing goal is June 1

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf said that his administration’s new goal to test every resident and employee for the coronavirus in long-term care facilities is June 1, a week after the target date recommended by the White House to governors.

The testing is to go on every week, Wolf said, although Wolf’s own Department of Health has not necessarily endorsed any such idea or released a plan that backs that up.

A state Health Department spokesperson acknowledged the goal is ambitious, since that likely involves testing more than 135,000 residents and employees in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and personal care homes.

The Wolf administration has been under pressure to release a plan to test every resident and employee in the facilities since they have been hit hard, accounting for roughly two-thirds of Pennsylvania’s more than 4,700 reported coronavirus-related deaths.

It is also a break from last week’s guidance. That guidance encouraged facilities where the coronavirus is already present to test all residents and staff, whether or not they have symptoms of the disease, and recommending that facilities without any known infections to test 20% of residents and employees weekly.

However, Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, among others, criticized that plan as inadequate and short of what other states were pursuing.

Still, Adam Marles, president and CEO of another nursing home group, LeadingAge PA, said the homes don’t have access to an adequate supply of tests or funding to pay for them.

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