Connecticut Eliminates Negative COVID-19 Test Requirement For Nursing Home Patients

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Connecticut is eliminating a requirement that COVID-19 patients test negative before returning to nursing homes from hospitals, the state’s Department of Public Health (DPH) announced Thursday.

Before DPH issued the new guidance, patients were required to test negative for COVID-19 up to 48 hours before they were discharged from the hospital, according to the Hartford Courant. Under the Thursday guidance, however, patients may be transferred to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities even if they are still sick with COVID-19.

Democratic Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont also issued an order requiring all nursing home employees to receive COVID-19 booster shots.

President and Chief Executive Officer of the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities Matthew Barrett told the Hartford Courant that he believes the new guidance does not require nursing homes to accept patients who are ill.

“Our initial reading based on the memo released today is that nothing in the memo undermines the nursing home’s appropriate authority to refuse an admission due to their ability to meet the care needs of the resident because of staffing shortages, and COVID status may be a factor in that assessment,” he said.

A spokesman for DPH did not respond to multiple requests for comment from the Daily Caller about Barrett’s interpretation of the new policy.

Nearly 4,000 nursing home residents in Connecticut have died of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, making up 43% of the state’s total COVID-19 deaths, according to Connecticut’s publicly reported data.

Several states issued similar orders to nursing homes in 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, leading to outbreaks and death. Most notably, then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo prohibited nursing homes from turning away COVID-19 positive patients between March and May 2020, and then changed the state’s death reporting rules to give the impression that nursing home residents were a smaller proportion of the state’s death toll than in reality. (RELATED: New York Nursing Homes Took In Over 9,000 COVID Positive Patients Under Cuomo’s Order)

New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan also required nursing homes to accept COVID-19 positive patients, leading the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to launch an investigation. The DOJ under President Joe Biden later announced that the investigation would not move forward.