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News about coronavirus in Florida and around the world is constantly emerging. It's hard to stay on top of it all but Health News Florida and WUSF can help. Our responsibility at WUSF News is to keep you informed, and to help discern what’s important for your family as you make what could be life-saving decisions.

State Says COVID-19 Tests Are For Long-Term Care Workers

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The federal government announced this week that it would send rapid COVID-19 tests to nursing homes in virus hotspots.

COVID-19 test kits sent to nursing homes and assisted living facilities are for employees, not residents, the state said Thursday.

“If you have residents that require testing, please make sure that you are coordinating with their health care provider or you may contact the county health department if you require testing for residents,” Agency for Health Care Administration Deputy Secretary Molly McKinstry told nursing home officials during a call.

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities receive in the mail a month’s worth of tests and, under a pair of emergency rules, are required to test staff every other week.

Meanwhile, the federal government announced this week that it would send rapid COVID-19 tests to nursing homes in virus hotspots.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said on Twitter that 2,000 tests would be sent by the end of next week. But it’s not clear how many of those tests will be sent to Florida facilities.

In all, Florida had 3,652 long-term care residents who were COVID-19 positive and another 6,368 staff members who had tested positive as of Thursday.

Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew said on the call Thursday that she doesn’t have a lot of information about the rapid testing at this time.

“We have over 700 nursing homes in Florida, so we’ll continue to work closely with CMS (federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) to understand their plan and their approach and will proceed as requested with any additional information to help inform that,” Mayhew said.