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Survey: Coronavirus tests conducted at ALFs take days to process

By The Numbers

The Seminole Pavilian Rehabiliation & Nursing Services at Freedom Square is shown Saturday, May 9, 2020, in Seminole, Fla. Several patients and an employee have died from the coronavirus at the facility. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Coronavirus tests at nursing homes and assisted living facilities are taking too long to process, a new survey says.

In a survey by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living of 1,385 members around the country, 56 percent of nursing homes and assisted living facilities report having issues with lab processing of tests.

More than one-third of the ALFs and nursing homes surveyed report that the cost of testing staff is still a major barrier and one-out-of-five say lack of state and government support is a key issue.

The most concerning finding of the survey, however, is that 87 percent of facilities surveyed reported that getting test results back from the lab companies is taking two days or longer.

By mid-June, more than 80 percent of the more than 320,700 people who live and work in Florida’s long-term facilities had been tested.

WFLA.com reached out to the Florida Department of Health to find out what percentage of those tests had come back within two days and has yet to receive a response.

“The amount of time it is taking to receive testing results is hurting the ability of long term facilities to fight the virus. Regular testing of nursing home and assisted living staff is a vital step in controlling the spread of COVID-19, but is not effective without obtaining timely test results,” said Mark Parkinson, the CEO of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living. “For nursing homes and assisted living communities to protect residents and staff, we need on-site testing with reliable and rapid results. With a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases among the general population, we are concerned labs will get overwhelmed and receiving results for long term care residents and staff will take even longer to obtain.”

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