Covid-19 Testing Mandates For Assisted Living Raise Questions About Access, Cost

May 18, 2020

As more states are now mandating that assisted living facilities test either residents, staff or both for Covid-19, providers that have been asking for widespread testing for weeks are now faced with logistical challenges and unanswered questions.

This highlights the need for best practices and guidelines if testing mandates are going to become more commonplace, AMDA — The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine Executive Director Christopher Laxton told Senior Housing News.

“The whole question of a testing strategy needs to be outlined,” he said.


A look at testing mandates across various states reveals wide disparities in the types of communities that should be tested, and who within them should be tested. Last month, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced that all long-term care facilities and nursing homes in the Volunteer State would be tested for the virus — impacting over 70,000 residents.

New York’s testing mandate, meanwhile, focuses on staff. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order last week announcing that assisted living employees would be tested twice a week or subject to fines of up to $2,000 per violation per day, as well as risk having their licenses revoked.

And in Florida, where long-term care facilities have lobbied for more testing, state health authorities would only test in communities with a confirmed positive case. Last week, the Florida Department of Public Health issued an executive order mandating that communities must allow authorities inside to test staff and residents, or risk fines and license revocations.

Experts believe that testing practices should involve discussions with providers and trade associations, Hedy Rubinger, national health care practice chair at law firm Arnall Golden Gregory, told SHN. She cites New York as an example where obligations fall entirely on an assisted living operator to comply with recent requirements for twice weekly staff testing.