COVID-19 Testing

 
 
 
 
 
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What you need to know

COVID-19 Long-Term Care and Assisted Living Facility Baseline Testing Project

UPDATED 10/9/20: Baseline testing has been temporarily suspended. Most facilities have already completed baseline testing, and the focus has changed to routine testing in nursing homes, outbreak testing in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, and confirmatory testing for antigen testing methods. If a facility has a need for baseline testing in order to progress to Phase III, please contact Becky Wisell at becky.wisell@nebraska.gov or Dan Taylor at daniel.taylor@nebraska.gov.

Basic Process

Baseline testing is fully paid for by Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Any facility that chooses NOT to use this process must pay for their baseline testing. Any facility that chooses to order baseline testing kits from any other lab must pay for their own testing. The Nebraska Public Health Lab is NOT to be used for baseline testing.

Why Baseline Testing?

On May 18, 2020, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued QSO-20-30-NH, Nursing Home Reopening Recommendations for State and Local Officials. The document provides guidance for State Survey Agencies and other state officials to determine how nursing facilities may begin to lift restrictions placed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. CMS indicates in this QSO that testing will be a critical part of a facility lifting restrictions on operations. 

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (NEDHHS) agrees that it is important for all facilities to participate in baseline testing prior to the consideration of lifting restrictions. Baseline testing of staff and residents is critical to understanding how the virus may exist in facilities especially among those without symptoms. This understanding will allow for informed decisions to be made and appropriate steps to be taken for containment.  

At minimum, facilities should meet the following testing metrics prior to moving to Phase III and may also follow this guidance any time a single positive case is identified in a facility: 

  • All staff (including administrative) in a facility (regardless of whether they had any previous COVID-19 cases or not) should be offered a COVID-19 test. 
  • Any worker who is not on regular staff, but frequently provide care or services to the residents in the facility, should also be offered a COVID-19 test. 
  • All residents of a facility, where a case of COVID-19 has ever been identified in either a resident or staff, should be offered a COVID-19 test.  
  • If the first case of COVID-19 was identified on baseline testing of staff, then the facility should also offer COVID-19 testing for all residents. 
  • Staff and residents declining testing should be treated as having a positive COVID-19 test result.

Training Resources

View training resources and information on COVID-19 sample collection, transport, and storage, donning and doffing PPE, and Long Term Care Phasing Guidance.

TestNebraska Website 

In Nebraska, we take care of each other, and COVID-19 can show us the power we have when we work together. The best thing you can do right now to stop the spread and save lives is take a health assessment so we can better understand what is currently going on in Nebraska.

What is TestNebraska?

TestNebraska is a new initiative in partnership with our state leaders and private corporations. Our goal is to dramatically increase the rate of COVID-19 testing so Nebraskans can have better access to testing and help stem the spread of COVID-19 to get us back to normal as quickly as possible.