DES MOINES — AARP Iowa is calling for mandatory testing of all residents and staff in Iowa nursing homes after a case of COVID-19 has been identified.
“Today testing in nursing homes is encouraged, but frankly encouraged is not good enough,” AARP Iowa state director Brad Anderson says. “Testing needs to be mandatory and it needs to be tracked and reported in every single facility.”
Anderson says Iowans should be outraged by an Iowa Capitol Dispatch report showing employees with COVID-19 symptoms kept working in a Dubuque nursing home. Ninety-five percent of residents at the home tested positive for the virus and 11 residents died. Anderson notes 52 percent of all the Iowans who’ve died of COVID-19 were nursing home residents.
“We have had more discussions about summer baseball reopening than we have had about the crisis sweeping through our nursing homes,” Anderson says, “and that needs to change.”
Governor Kim Reynolds says she’s aware of the situation at Dubuque Specialty Care
“It’s just something that just shouldn’t happen,” Reynolds says. “I do want to reiterate in the context of this there are a lot of long-term care facilities that are doing a phenomenal job.”
A week ago, Reynolds signed a law that gives businesses and health care facilities — including nursing homes — new legal immunity from most COVID-related lawsuits.
“We want to make sure that we have doctors and nurses and care facilities that are willing to provide these critical services,” Reynolds says. “…but the bill also has appropriate exemptions that still permit some lawsuits for reckless or willful misconduct, so I think it strikes the balance that it needs to.”
State officials define a coronavirus outbreak at a nursing home as when three residents test positive for COVID-19. The state website shows 28 Iowa nursing homes currently have coronavirus outbreaks. At one point this spring, 42 long-term care facilities in Iowa reported COVID-19 outbreaks.