Northam Pledges $246 Million to Care Facilities for COVID-19 Aid

Funding will help hire staff, purchase equipment, and increase testing

Governor Ralph S. Northam, in a 2019 photo, directed funding to help long-term care facilities battle the pandemic. (Zebra file photo)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – Long-term care facilities throughout Virginia, including those here in Alexandria, have been greatly affected by the coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19. On June 19, Gov. Ralph S. Northam (D-VA), in an effort to support those facilities, pledged to provide $246 million toward the care of one of the populations most vulnerable to illness.

The money will be resourced primarily from the CARES Act, a pandemic relief package created by the federal government. The amount will be used specifically to hire more staff, purchase personal protective equipment, improve infection control, and ramp up testing capabilities.

Northam addressed a number of other topics as well, including guidelines for reopening facilities to families.

“The lockdowns of long-term care facilities to protect residents and staff from the spread of COVID-19 have been hard on residents and their families,” said the governor. “These actions will help support long-term care facilities as they ease those restrictions, while keeping their residents safe and ensuring that the public gets accurate information on the spread of this virus in these facilities.”

On May 18, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services  outlined reopening criteria. Read the document HERE. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) composed state-specific guidelines, which mandates the testing of all residents and staff when facilities are in the first phase of reopening. The complete document can be found HERE.

Due to the prevalence of outbreaks in the Commonwealth’s long-term care facilities, VDH has partnered with the Virginia National Guard to conduct testing of residents and staff during the same time period. The goal of obtaining these point prevalence surveys in all state facilities should be reached by July 15.

Gov. Northam has directed VDH to release the names of facilities – both assisted-living and nursing homes – because of the serious and evolving nature of the pandemic.

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