New York Reduces Testing Requirement for Many Nursing Homes to Once a Week

We recently wrote about how there has been criticism of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Administration’s handling of nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 10, 2020, in response to that criticism, Gov. Cuomo issued executive Order EO202.30 which required all nursing homes in the state to test all of its staff twice a week and report any positive results to the Commissioner of Health. The May 10 Executive Order is available to view here. The Administration is now partially reversing that order after new reports citing significant delays in providing test results to facilities, with one nursing home reporting that it had not received test results for nearly three weeks.

Due to the backlog in testing, Gov. Cuomo announced on June 10, 2020 a modification of his May 10 Order with a new Executive Order that only requires testing once a week in all regions of New York that have hit Phase Two. Those areas include all of the state except the New York City area, which will still be required to test its staff twice weekly until it reaches Phase Two. That Executive Order is located here.

The reversal is in response to letters written by nursing home association heads to Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker requesting that the original May 10 order be rescinded or modified because the twice-weekly testing requirement was an undue burden on nursing home staff when they have COVID cases under control. Reportedly, the estimated cost to test the more than 200,000 nursing home employees twice a week was over $40 million per week.

In a statement, Dr. Zucker stated, “Over the last three weeks, the weekly positive testing rate has declined from 3% to less than 1 percent for the most recent week for which we have test results. For facilities in regions that have entered Phase Two, just 0.76 percent of test results this past week have come back positive, mirroring the tremendous progress New Yorkers have made to control COVID-19 spread.”

Dr. Zucker went on to state, “As a result of these ambitious testing operations, I believe we have successfully tracked and reduced the spread of the virus in long term care facilities.”

Hopefully, this reduction in testing requirements will lessen the burden on New York nursing home and long-term care facilities so they can continue to work to protect their residents who are the most susceptible to the COVID virus.

More information is available here.

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