Confusion over coronavirus testing requirements leaves loved ones, nursing home workers frustrated

PITTSBURGH — UPDATE May 7: In a follow up to our 11 Investigates story, UPMC announced at a virtual news conference that no residents at any of its senior living communities have tested positive for coronavirus, including UPMC Cranberry Place.

11 Investigates’ Angie Moreschi asked UPMC’s Chief Medical Officer of Senior Communities whether not testing some residents, even when they had symptoms could have skewed the numbers.

Dr. David Nace said it’s unlikely that any residents could have been positive, because coronavirus spreads so quickly once one person in a confined area has it.

Nace did say testing criteria is more liberal now than it was weeks ago and more tests are available. See video of his response in the follow up report below.

ORIGINAL April 20: A major area of concern for families, residents and the people running nursing homes is who is supposed to be tested for coronavirus and who is not.

Some nursing homes and care facilities have strict testing criteria and guidance by the state said to stop testing in some facilities because it wastes supplies.

“We thought she should have been tested at that time,” said Dan Vete.

Vete’s mother, Teresa, is a resident at UPMC’s Cranberry Place and was exposed to an employee who tested positive. Vete said the facility refuses to test her.

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“It is very irresponsible in my mind not to test,” said James Cox.

Cox owns Paramount Senior Living, which has several facilities in Pennsylvania. He said part of the problem is a lack of consistent guidelines being given to nursing homes from the state. Despite saying seniors are a priority for testing, he said the Department of Health told him to stop testing residents at his facility in the central part of the state.

“The comment was made ‘Let’s not waste supplies and test everyone because even though someone would possibly test positive today, they could possibly test positive three days from now’,” Cox said. “I think we need to know. I think the families need to know. I think the patients themselves need to know.”

11 Investigates pressed the state about the confusion. State officials said nursing homes are told to stop testing when several residents test positive and to assume all are positive.