Kern County announced Wednesday it will assist skilled nursing facilities with a new state requirement to test all residents and workers for COVID-19.
Starting Friday, the county will deploy a testing response team that will conduct testing on staff at skilled nursing facilities that are unable to conduct the testing on their own, according to a news release from the county's administrative office. The state has given facilities 21 days to develop their plans for testing.
"Our goal is to get this in place now because waiting three weeks is too long," said Megan Person, the county's spokeswoman.
There are 19 skilled nursing facilities in Kern County with some 2,000 health care workers employed in them. Workers will be tested every two weeks, Person said.
The county's response stems from a major outbreak at the Kingston Healthcare Center in early May, where nine residents have died from the virus and more than 100 staff and residents have tested positive for it. A 35-person medical strike team was sent to the facility by the state to assist with the outbreak.
The situation at Kingston not only presents a medical crisis but threatens to hold the county back in trying to gain state approval to accelerate its reopening, which counties can do it they attest to meeting certain benchmarks. Among the benchmarks are a requirements that no deaths have occurred in the past two weeks and there are no more than 10 new cases per 100,000 people in the previous two weeks.