Report: Don't Go By Symptoms at Nursing Homes

Screening could miss half the infected patients, investigation finds
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 27, 2020 5:20 PM CDT
Nursing Home Patients With No Symptoms Can Have Virus: Report
A nurse works in the room of a patient who has tested positive for the coronavirus at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Wash.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

(Newser) – An investigation at a Seattle-area nursing home concluded that symptoms aren't enough to identify who is infected once the coronavirus enters a long-term care facility. People without symptoms could have the virus, so it won't work to simply separate residents with symptoms from others. Investigators found that screening based on symptoms alone may be failing to identify half the people who are infected with COVID-19. A report released Friday focused on a nursing home in King County, Washington, that health officials thought might become vulnerable after an outbreak at a nearby facility, the Life Care Center nursing home in Kirkland.

As there’s a confirmed case, the report concluded, all health care workers should don masks and other protective garments, and residents should be isolated as much as possible. The report did not identify the nursing home. But it said that of 23 residents who tested positive, only 10 had symptoms on the day they were tested. The report was by state and local investigators, and scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. It was published online by a CDC publication, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

(Read more coronavirus stories.)

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