AUSTIN, Texas - State agencies in Texas are working on rapidly testing both staff and residents in nursing homes for COVID-19. As directed by Gov. Greg Abbott, tests will be conducted over the next two weeks.
The American Health Care Association projects more than 190 thousand tests needed will cost about $29 million in Texas for one round of testing. However, nonprofits are advocating for continuous testing as recommended by the CDC to help monitor the virus.
“They are going to be looking at some level of ongoing testing that comes at a price and the question is who's going to pay for it?” said Kevin Warren, president and CEO of Texas Health Care Association. “To get back to normal....this is going to take everybody working together, it’s going to take patience, a heightened awareness of the importance of the long term care communities.”
AHCA and THCA are asking state and federal governments to fund additional testing and staff needed to respond to the health crisis. Warren said senior living centers were struggling to maintain staffing before the pandemic and the pandemic has exacerbated the issue.
Get breaking news alerts in the FOX 7 Austin News app. It is FREE!
The impact on the country’s most vulnerable population has families concerned. In Dallas, Brianna Hardee’s family visits her Nana Joanne through her bedroom window. Joanne is staying in a long term facility and celebrated her 91st birthday in March at the height of the pandemic.
“Not everyone gets the privilege to live to 91, we wanted to make sure she knew we loved her and we still wanted to celebrate with her,” said Hardee.
Hardee spoke fondly of her great grandmother noting her devotion as a military wife, supporting her husband through WWII and Korea. Joanne has four children and countless grandchildren who visit through her window. Health guidelines prevent visitors from making physical contact with guests.
“It’s really hard to be able to talk to someone through a window and not be able to hug them, especially when they don’t understand day to day why you can’t,” said Hardee. "You’re having to explain, I love you, I want to be with you. I want to hug you, I want to tell you all these things, I miss you but I don’t want to get you sick.”
FOX 7 Austin is working to keep you up to date with coronavirus, with both local and national developments. Every weekday we're live at 12 p.m. with a special show reporting the latest news, prevention tips and treatment information.
You can also get the latest COVID-19 news from around the country at coronavirusnow.com.