According to Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith, COVID-19 testing in nursing home facilities across the state is almost complete.
“We will have completed our roster tomorrow (June 27),” he said at Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s press conference today (June 26). “Next week, we are going to go back if there are any facilities that were not able to complete their testing as scheduled, but we have been embarking this month on testing all of our nursing homes. We have identified some cases in places where we didn’t already know about them, but overall fewer than one percent of those we’ve tested have tested positive.”
Smith told Arkansas Money & Politics after the press conference that many nursing homes should meet the criteria to begin reopening on a limited basis on July 1.
“It looks like many of them should meet the criteria because most of them did not have any cases at all,” he said. “Now they also have to have adequate supplies of PPE and an appropriate place for those visitations to occur, there are other things there, but assuming they meet the criteria they should begin visitation on that very limited basis in our directive.”
Although Smith is concerned about the vulnerable population of older people who have a higher risk of contracting the virus, “that’s why we put very strict criteria for those nursing homes, and if they follow those criteria, quite honestly even if someone does come in and they are asymptomatically infected. If the directive is followed it should still prevent cases from occurring in nursing homes.”
The state is continuing to finish COVID-19 testing at other long-term care facilities. In terms of numbers, Smith said testing has been conducted at 33,000 facilities out of approximately 40,000 total.