US: White House recommends testing all 1 million nursing home residents plus staff for COVID-19 over next two weeks

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A major push to tackle the 25,000-plus COVID-19 deaths in US aged care facilities.

While not a direct order, Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the White House coronavirus task force, has told State governors on a video conference call that it is the Trump administration’s strong recommendation that all residents and staff be tested for coronavirus.

Some states such as West Virginia and Texas have already mandated testing for all nursing home residents and staff. New York – where there have been over 5,000 COVID-19 deaths in its nursing homes – began requiring all staff to be tested twice a week on Sunday.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly blamed the states for responding too slowly to the need for testing in aged care facilities.

“Frankly, some of the governors were very lax with respect to nursing homes. It was obvious right from the beginning,” he said, referring to the Life Care Center outbreak in Seattle.

Asked why testing was recommended, not ordered, Trump said: “I would certainly consider that. I will mandate it if you’d like.”

The aged care peaks have welcomed the new recommendations, but say that the Government needs to provide the funding to make it happen.

As we have reported, nursing home operators say the lack of testing kits available has made it difficult for them to stop the deadly spread of the virus.

Around one-third of the US’s 81,000 deaths have taken place in aged care homes and long-term care facilities – though national data on fatalities is still weeks away reportedly.