NORFOLK, Va. — The Virginia Department of Health is providing recommendations to senior centers on how to slowly reopen, but for many, that’s still a long way off. More than 60 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in the state are connected to outbreaks in long term care facilities.
VDH says it continues to help with staffing shortages, testing, and infection control at long term care facilities.
“These are real lives out there that are facing COVID every day. It is very serious," said Josh Allen, Commonwealth Senior Living clinical consultant. "These restrictions that people are frustrated with, things being closed, not having access to things they’re used to, it’s so important that we remain vigilant as we ease into reopening.”
VDH leaders said Thursday the department will finish baseline point prevalence testing in all nursing homes by July 15. It’s that testing that helps senior living centers identify residents and staff members who could be spreading the virus unknowingly.
“It allowed us to quickly identify the positives and then get them isolated, as opposed to situations all over the country where those results come in one at a time," Allen said. "That Point Prevalence Survey was a key piece.”
VDH leaders said it’s important to look at nursing homes as a thread of the community, saying they’re not isolated.
“It’s not an island. All of these things that we’re doing at the community level are so very important," said a VDH spokesperson on a media call Thursday.
So far, 1,099 Virginians have died in coronavirus outbreaks in long-term care facilities.