As we mentioned a few days ago, South Carolina will start testing every nursing home employee and resident for COVID-19 on Monday. That adds up to about 40,000 people. SCDHEC Director of Public Health Dr. Joan Duwve said nursing home residents make up about 28 percent of deaths in South Carolina. Experts believe the final number will be above 40%.
There are 194 nursing homes total but the first wave will focus on 74 of them, about 15,000 people. Twenty-seven of those are considered to have “heightened risks.” The other 47 volunteered to test. The tests will help them conserve personal protective equipment by getting patients out of isolation faster. The facility will be able to rule out patients with coronavirus symptoms who do not test positive.
Dr. Duwve says that it will give families peace of mind.
“We are ready to help long care facilities to help protect this vulnerable population and the important critical staff who care for them,” Duwve said.
”The test does help us decide how best to prevent ongoing transmission in our nursing facilities,” Duwve said. “So if we don’t know who has COVID-19 then we can’t stop the transmission inside these facilities.”
DHEC wants to finish testing all nursing homes by the end of the month. Until then, the answer on nursing home infections and deaths remains vague. We still don’t know how many staff versus the number of patients are coming down with, spreading, or dying from COVID-19. Meaning that, as of now, the agency is not requiring a breakdown of the staff and health care workers who are free to leave the facility and the patients who have been shut in with the disease for nearly two months.