New Orders: Everyone in Wheeling nursing homes now getting tested for COVID-19

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Starting this week, everone that is working or living in these most vulnerable facilities will be tested.

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WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — West Virginia is the only state requiring all nursing home residents and staff to be tested for COVID-19 following Governor Jim Justice’s recent order. This is all in response to cases occurring in the lower part of the state. So, what does that look like for the three prominent facilities in Ohio County?

While the three nursing homes in Wheeling; Peterson, Good Shepherd, and Wheeling Continuous Care, have not had any residents test positive for COVID-19 so far, health officials say this will be an extra line of precaution.

It’s a huge undertaking, but keep in mind the three facilities in our county have already been doing enhanced testing.

Howard Gamble, Ohio County Health Department Administrator

Nursing homes in Ohio County have already been on lockdown, testing patients before they come from an acute facility to one of Wheeling’s three long-term care facilities. But with the test now being administered on all, the nasal swab can be invasive, so is everyone on board?

All are willing to get tested. All are willing to see what the results are and keep the virus at bay. But some of them have hesitance of bringing people into the facility when it’s not necessary.

Howard Gamble, Ohio County Health Department Administrator

Whether they are exhibiting symptoms or not, 200 to 300 staff at each facility, plus the 170 to 190 patients at each are now being tested for COVID-19. With the kits being in high demand, will this cause a shortage in the state?

Supplies run low, they get replenished. With this many tests being done across West Virginia, you’re looking at assets being used up very quickly.

Howard Gamble, Ohio County Health Department Administrator

These nursing homes can get help from the National Guard. Some already have in-house testing, or the Health Department links ups with kits outside so the virus is not introduced to those at risk.

It’s going to take some effort to get done, but keep in mind we’ve been testing 50 to 100 everyday at the Wheeling site.

Howard Gamble, Ohio County Health Department Administrator

But Gamble applauds the nursing homes in Wheeling, saying they have protected their residents from the get-go.

The whole basis is to keep the virus out. They’ve done a good job so far.

Howard Gamble, Ohio County Health Department Administrator

Gamble says it could take a week to get the full results, and it will show officials how many individuals are asymptomatic.

In terms of testing in West Virginia, the Health Department is still seeing COVID cases rising each day, and Gamble says there is a little ways before we reach that peak.

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