McClure currently is running a Covid-19 testing program with Easton Hospital for any county resident who exhibits a symptom. As of Friday, 888 tests have been conducted on Northampton County residents who claim to have one symptom of the virus.
But are the right people being tested?
Given that most of the cases and deaths have been at long-term care facilities, it would make sense to focus testing there. In fact, during a conference call the White House had with state governors on May 11, they were strongly urged to test everyone who works for or resides at a nursing home. "Start now," said VP Michael Pence.
But two weeks later, Pennsylvania still has failed to begin proactive testing at nursing homes, including Grtacedale. Providers, i.e. doctors prefer instead to abide by CDC guidelines that were more relevant when test kits were in short supply.
The result has been a sad rise in the death toll.
On Sunday's This Week, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx discussed the importance of proactive testing at nursing homes:
"We have been working with every county and state and local official, both through the CDC and through the governors, through the governors' calls, to really encourage proactive testing.At Thursday night's County Council meeting, McClure said testing was going to become more aggressive in the days ahead. Testing and tracing has been recognized as perhaps the most effective tool in combating Covid-19, but the Trump administration initially underplayed this pandemic and actually botched initial test kits. It was woefully slow in ramping up production. Finally, by mid-May, about three percent of the US population had been tested.
"So, some of this is increased testing in areas where we know are the highest risk, whether it's nursing homes, whether it's areas where people work and sleep and stay together or transport together, and really getting proactive testing out there to find cases before there's community spread."
Testing, however, has been reactive and focused on the very sick. By more proactive testing, asymptomatic people can be identified before they unwittingly spread the virus to others. This ultimately leads to a decline in positive tests.
In the meantime, families unable to visit husbands, wives, fathers and mothers are becoming frustrated.
A woman named Diana spoke at Thursday night's Northampton County Council meeting. Her husband is a resident there, and unfortunately, is a victim of Alzheimer's disease. She, along with the families of Gracedale's other 600 residents, has been unable to connect with her spouse since March 12, when Executive Lamont McClure placed barred all outside visits, even volunteers. This decision was motivated by a desire to protect at-risk residents from silent spreaders, which ironically could be the persons who love them most.
"I understand there's a pandemic, but dementia people do not," she said. "We should have been allowed to explain to our loved one why they won't see us for awhile." She fed her husband lunch and dinner every day, and he has lost 45 pounds since family visits were stopped. When she asked if she'd be notified if her husband starts showing symptoms, she states a male nurse "sarcastically" replied that would be "up to the doctor to do or we would be on the phone all damn day." She purchased a tablet herself, yet it took three weeks for it to make its way to her husband's area, Tower Three. She wants to see her husband, and suggested that now that the weather is getting warmer, she should be allowed to visit with him outside. She had kind words for most of the staff, but not the administration and "higher ups."
Jackie spoke of her 85 year-old mother, who graduated third in her class at Easton High School and was the church organist at St. Anthony's for 40 years. Now suffering from dementia, she plays at Gracedale. "She is my hero," said Jackie, acknowledging the decision to place her in Gracedale's dementia unit was "heart wrenching," but that it quickly became a new family. She ticked off the names of staff members - Ange, Doug, John, Pirate Ryan, Dago, Jim, Serena - who have been "phenomenal with her mom." But a "weeping staff member" informed Jackie as her mother was wheeled to a different floor. "She was packed up like a box," complained Jackie, who said that family visitors could have helped at least prepare her mother for the move.
"But two weeks later, Pennsylvania still has failed to begin proactive testing at nursing homes, including Grtacedale"
You have to have the testing capability.
The Fed idea is twice a week tests for all residents and workers including any outside workers(i.e the guy filling the vending machines) for the duration of the pandemic.
All you need is a unicorn to deliver that level of capability as it does not exist yet.
Best you can do is triage the nursing homes with what is available.
This is overdue, but welcome news.
As far as the Easton site, I've asked several times on this blog whether there's a full accounting of the cost.
I'd also be curious as to whether there are basic statistics that could be released regarding the Easton Hospital test site, such as how many of those tested were actually found to have the virus, daily counts of cases, etc.
It's simple data like that which would give us a scorecard by which to evaluate government decisions. Sadly, such basic transparency is usually absent at any level of government.
"All you need is a unicorn to deliver that level of capability as it does not exist yet.
Best you can do is triage the nursing homes with what is available."
As of mid-May, we have already tested 3% of the US population. The capability is there and grows every day. Time to test proactively, not reactively, and especially at nursing homes.
I stated earlier on here about testing. I’m not an expert in anything. But, a danger exists to test only sick people. Random testing would tell the true mortality rate and how many people have the virus. High risk populations escape self selected testing. So testing sick and symptomatic people will translate to over estimated everything. That’s how we got here now. Closed .
McClure ran on that he was going to take care of the elderly as one of his running points. He failed terribly on that and other things he ran on. He failed the elderly and taxpayers terribly. He must go. Another political liar.
Day late and a dollar short, obviously. Wolf sandbagged McClure and McClure bent over and accepted his screwing by the state's top Democrat. McClure was either utterly disconnected from the Gracedale death box, or he knew and refused to speak ill of the governor who is responsible for dozens of deaths in this county. When lives mattered, McClure stayed with the party line and refused to lead.
Actually, McClure ran on the premise that the county would protect its most vulnerable citizens. This includes the elderly, our children and the mentally disadvantaged. He has largely succeeded. He beefed up manpower in human services, and is in the process of establishing a county system for hiring so we no longer have to rely on an antiquated state system. He got generators at Gracedale, something the county was unable to do for seven long years. He is trying to hire at Gracedale, but was stymied by an economy that made jobs there unappealing. That might change now. He is not responsible for the Covid-19 virus. He took steps early that saved lives. He banned visitors and even volunteers very early. This has been very painful to family, but it has stopped asymotomatic people from spreading the virus.
I am highly critical of the way our national and state leaders have responded to this crisis. Locally, I think our leaders have risen to the occasion.
If you think McClure has failed to do what he said he would do, you can certainly call him out in the next election.
Nursing home residents and their workers should have been the priority in the beginning, the first deaths were in a nursing home in Washington state. This was not a secret. One must wonder if behind the scenes it is in the governments interest to reduce the number of residents in nursing homes by just appearing incompetent. Also the fact that this state and others placed recovering covid patients in nursing homes needs to be addressed.
The buck-passing over this episode will continue on for years. But, the biggest failures along the road here were from Pennsylvania State politicians under the control of incompetent Governor Wolf.
It’s as if Wolf was afraid to make any moves without the cover of adjacent governors taking the same actions first. That’s not the kind of ‘leadership’ any state needs.
6:55, The first deaths occurred in nursing homes, and that should have been a clue on what was coming. At first, tests were unavailable and were rationed to the very sick. In fact, that was the CDC guidance. But as tests became more available, doctors still insist on following CDC guidance instead of being proactive. This needs to change. Anyone in congregate care should be tested, along with those who work there.
6.55 and Bernie you are correct. instead of focusing on shutting down the state, if they would have focused on the vulnerable, there would likely be less deaths and a strong economy. Hopefully we will learn from these mistakes.
So, how do we explain some states handling this crisis better than other states? Comparing just on the basis of population by state is not enough. Big population states have more resources and people to mobilize than do smaller population states, so the task at hand is a similar challenge for both.
I believe it all comes down to leadership in each state. Some were up to the challenge, others were not, particularly Pennsylvania.
Here, in Pennsylvania, we discover an attitude that every problem is really the fault of ‘someone else.’ Wrong. The big, bad Federal Government dealt with every state the same. This was for each state’s leadership and performance capabilities within their state.
Hopefully, our next elections in Pennsylvania bring change, lots of change. We have laggards in office right now.
This was suggested months ago...and the National Guard should have been used to help with the testing...on ALL residents....and as a side note: the 150,000 dollars used to test those 800 people from the general public, could have and should have gone to helping Gracedale slow down or stop further cases of COVID-19
Excellent post by a "non- expert." Sure beats the "experts" that don't know shit. Or worse, lie about it.
We have seen intentional misrepresentation by experts, most obvious was do not wear masks, they will not help you. Would they have helped people in the N.Y. subway? Now it is mandatory and media keeps harping that Trump is not wearing a mask. His reply is he is tested regularly. Masks are likely good when in close contact with other people. I suspect they are irrelevant on the beach or golf course.
NBC nightly news, besides being tediously biased against Trump, likes to mask shame it's viewers. Their correspondents wear masks even outside in the middle of nowhere. Stupid. Last night one reporter was in the middle of a vacant parking lot with no one within a hundred yards, except the camera crew. Yet he had a mask on. Just another way NBC was to over dramatize a crisis and to delay normalcy as long as possible.
I have no problem wearing a mask when indoors or close to people, although I would prefer it to be a request. I would never want to infect someone, even unknowingly. I do not wear a mask when I am outdoors unless I am right next to someone. It is more f=difficult to breathe with a mask. In colder weather, I was using a balaclava. If it's cold enough, I actually like wearing them. The warmer weather is, as predicted by several scientific studies, doing a number on the virus. This gives us a chance to get a jump on it before the second wave hits. Hopefully, we will have learned from at least some of our many mistakes. The legislature really needs to get a grip on the Governor's emergency powers, and the US government needs to do all it can to ramp up testing and PPE. I think we're good. No more frickin' shutdowns.
Bernie. Check actual census at gracedale today.
That's pretty difficult. RTK requests are suspended. Can you tell me what point you are trying to make?
I watched a little of the Tiger/Manning, Phil/Brady golf on Sunday and it was SO nice to see them within six feet of one another and not wearing masks. How I long for the good old days.
Census dropped dramatically. No longer 600 residents despite admissions continuing. Just helping your accuracy.
Which I appreciate. The Exec sex there are 600 residents and 700 staff but is speaking in round numbers. I suspect it is still close to 600, right? Also , although it basically must accept everyone, my guess is that recruiting efforts have been suspended as a result of the pandemic. Unfortunately Council has topped Human Services Committee meetings at at time when they are needed most.
Bernie , a need to test for antibodies within the first responder segment should be on the county addenda. The 20 -40 yr. old EMT- Police and Fire that are actually active right now. The need to know who they are- they would have been asymptomatic working and not known it.. But we need to ( as mentioned) be ready for next wave on the beach, if it returns an up tic.
Perhaps a storyline for another day. Census below 540. Still taking admissions. Recruiting not really necessary there and need the census to pay the bills. But with dwindling staff and open beds perhaps Northampton county could be proactive like Lehigh county was almost 20 years ago and close the old wings and repurpose. The tax dollars spent on payroll due to never enough staff for multiple years is irresponsible. The stress to the staff being mandated daily if also irresponsible. The residents deserve a better home environment that the old buildings can no longer provide. If we want to take proper care of those in need look to Lehigh counties model. Independent living. And now expansion with improved homelike goal. It's time. The census is low. Makes it easy and will ultimately make money.
Not really, was studied to death. Lehigh and Northampton very different in number of buildings and layout. Not really new suggestions.
"As of mid-May, we have already tested 3% of the US population.
call it 10 million.
PA 76 thousand as of 2017.
figure equal number of staff.
150k twice a week is 300k.
1.2 million per month and that is just PA.
or say average need is 100k per state.
that is 5 million per test or twenty million per month.
even at ten million per month you do not have enough.
so you have to triage with what you have.
Aristotle Quotes , Excellence is never an accident. It his always the result of high intention. Forget you not!
7:56, The supply is steadily increasing and there is enough for at-risk nursing homes. Do not be ridiculous. You start with residents then the staff. Everyone.
So untrue. Never received attention is deserved
Bernie, the CDC is now opposing return to work with out antibody testing . I not an expert in anything but I said on on your blog about first responders earlier. Before the CDC advice .
I just rejected a comment that is off topic.
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