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Governor: Nursing homes residents, staff must be tested before end of June

Almost 40% of all COVID-19-related deaths in the state were long-term care residents, according to Gov. Lee.

The governor has released updated guidelines on caring for residents and staff at nursing homes and senior living facilities.

Gov. Bill Lee said the population at the nursing homes and senior living facilities is the “one of the most vulnerable populations to COVID-19.” There are more than 70,000 residents in the Tennessee facilities and Lee added that almost 40 percent of all COVID-19-related deaths in the state were long-term care residents.

In a new report by Lee and the Unified Command released on Friday, each nursing home "must complete an 'intent to test' survey as provided for by the Tennessee Health Department before June 1. The report added all residents and staff must be tested for COVID-19 by June 30.

"Failure to comply will be considered a serious deficiency, and the Department may seek any remedy including but not limited to, license revocation, license suspension, and the imposition of civil monetary penalties," Lee's office said in a statement on Friday.

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Previously the governor had "strongly encouraged" testing of all nursing home staff and residents in Executive Order 38. However, on May 27, the Healthcare Facilities Board unanimously approved new rules and required testing.

According to the recent report, nearly 100 percent of long-term care facilities have completed the Department’s initial survey while 60 percent of facilities have already completed or scheduled testing of residents and staff. 

Residents and staff have the right to refuse testing.

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Under the Executive Order No. 38, the governor said there will be no visitors to nursing homes at this time. 

However, the state provided funding to help accommodate "virtual social visits to enhance communication between nursing home residents and their family members."

To read the full report, click here. 

This story originally appeared on WSMV.

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