The Colorado National Guard will assist health officials this week in testing residents and staff at three of the state’s largest nursing homes for the new coronavirus even though outbreaks have not been reported at the facilities.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said the idea is to prevent the disease from spreading as opposed to responding to it.
“We are prioritizing large facilities without known outbreaks so that we can identify anyone who might be positive before there is a chance for an outbreak to start,” the agency said.
The facilities where 300 tests will be administered at each are:
- Pikes Peak Center in Colorado Springs
- Elms Haven Center in Thornton
- Broomfield Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation Center
Pikes Peak Center and Elms Haven Center are owned by Genesis HealthCare. Broomfield Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation Center is owned by 3G Healthcare.
Each of the facilities have more than 200 beds, making them among the largest nursing homes or senior care centers in the state.
Through Wednesday, about half of all coronavirus-related deaths in Colorado were residents of senior care centers and nursing homes. CDPHE said on Monday that the rate is now about 40%.
Coronavirus outbreaks have been identified by the state at 111 long-term health care facilities, which include nursing homes and senior care centers.
Gov. Jared Polis on Friday announced that he would be deploying the National Guard to help with testing at some of the state’s largest senior care facilities.
Polis also announced that he is ordering all senior care centers and nursing homes to submit a detailed plan for how to isolate residents with coronavirus symptoms and confirmed infections and submit it to the state by May 1.
Colorado also set aside 200 isolation beds for sick seniors if space isn’t available at the facility where they are living. The first beds will be at St. Anthony’s North in Westminster.
Finally, the state will beef up up its enforcement of state orders and guidance for facilities to ensure they are limiting visitors and screening people before they enter.