Nursing Home Inspectors Are Not Routinely Tested For Coronavirus. Newsom Says They Will Be Now

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By the LAist, July 24 2020

Coronavirus test tubes. Courtesy of the County of Los Angeles.

Despite requiring routine COVID-19 testing for nursing home residents and workers, state nursing home inspectors are not being tested. A report by the Los Angeles Times calls into question whether these inspectors could be inadvertently spreading the virus as they travel between skilled nursing facilities to verify the safety and hygiene of those same facilities.

In California, nearly 40% of all the people who have died from the coronavirus either worked or lived in nursing homes. Mike Dark, a lawyer for the patient support group, California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, was shocked that nursing home inspectors were not being tested for COVID-19.

“How in the world has that not already been the case?” he said. “It’s a life-and-death issue for the nurses who are conducting these inspections, for their families, and for the residents of these facilities.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday that his administration is working on requiring all nursing home inspectors to be tested.

“We’re raising our standards,” he said. “We’re requiring for every sector that an inspector is inspecting that they meet the same criteria that’s established within that sector.”

Newsom didn’t give details on how often inspectors would be tested or when the new policy would begin. He indicated an agreement was still being worked out with the union that represents nursing home inspectors.

In an email, the California Department of Public Health said that six state nursing home inspectors had tested positive for the virus, but that they had not contracted it at work and had not exposed others in nursing homes.

“Our surveyors are professional nurses trained in infection prevention protocols; they wear [personal protective equipment] and they do not provide direct patient care or have a need to be within 6 feet of a resident while conducting their work,” a spokesperson for the health department wrote.