De Blasio to boost New York City nursing home testing, staff and at-home care

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Photo via Flickr/Mayor’s de Blasio’s office

Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday he is mulling over how to build a comprehensive plan to help seniors stay in their homes and not be forced to live in nursing homes as part of a larger novel coronavirus recovery plan.

“This whole crisis has made me think about what happens to folks who live in nursing homes at any time but particularly during a crisis,” said de Blasio during his daily novel coronavirus press conference. “I know for the seniors in my life … and this was true of my mom and my aunts and her sisters, everyone had the same wish — they wanted to stay home no matter what.”

“Having seniors at home is in many ways not only a better quality of life but its a better place to care for them if done right,” the mayor continued. “And by the way if people are living at home there’s much less a chance of being in a situation where they are exposed to a disease that is spreading.”

Nursing homes have been hotbeds for the novel coronavirus. In New York City alone, there are over 1,200 confirmed nursing home and adult care facility deaths because of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, as of May 19, according to state data. That number jumps to over 3,000 after adding in presumed COVID-19 deaths.

The comment came after the mayor announced another multi-pronged plan to better help nursing home residents during the coronavirus pandemic. De Blasio announced that next week, the city would start a two-week-long blitz of free coronavirus testing at the city’s 169 nursing homes.

The goal, de Blasio said, is to process up to 3,000 tests a day through city-contracted labs but suggested that there was no guarantee the city would reach that number.

“We don’t control them, there are a few in the domain of our public health system but the vast majority are private nonprofit that we don’t control, we don’t regulate,” de Blasio said adding that the city would continue to provide free tests for “as long as it takes.”

De Blasio also promised to fill gaps in nursing home staff by the end of next week to help handle the anticipated spike in coronavirus patients that will occur when the surge in testing begins. He reminded reporters that the city has placed 250 additional staff members in nursing homes already.

New Outbreak Response Teams will provide supplemental help to nursing homes and other senior living facilities suffering from a coronavirus outbreak. The 10 three-person teams will each be headed by an epidemiologist and would control the spread of infection by making sure personal protective equipment is being worn properly, check the status of PPE supplies, and make sure that retesting is done.

This story originally appeared on amny.com

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