2,000 machines going to nursing homes to rapidly test for COVID-19

Rapid testing machines to nursing homes

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Two-thousand machines will soon be delivered to nursing homes across the country to rapidly test residents and staff for COVID-19.

The Alabama Nursing Home Association said they welcome any support they can get to help some of our most vulnerable residents.

But right now, there are still a lot of questions behind where these rapid, or “point of care,” tests will go and how they’ll be used.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will start distributing the machines next week to 2,000 nursing homes.

The Alabama Nursing Home Association is not sure yet if any nursing homes in our state will receive these machines from this initial shipment.

And if we do get these machines, there's a concern about the supply and reliability of the COVID-19 rapid tests that can give you results in minutes.

Alabama's Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris told WBRC FOX6 last week that those tests are in short supply and can give out false negatives.

"I don't exactly know CMS envisions us using these. Whether it's to dovetail in with the test you are already doing. Is it something they want to have on sight so that when we open visitation that you may be able to test some of your visitors? Or if they want to use this so we can spot test employees and residents. That's again guidance we need from the federal government," said John Matson, spokesperson for the Alabama Nursing Home Association.

The federal government said the plan is to distribute these machines with a certain number of tests to all nursing homes in the state.

And according to the news release, only facilities with the capability to screen and test residents, and test staff on a weekly basis will get machines.

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