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National Guard to help with coronavirus testing in Ohio nursing homes

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COLUMBUS, OH (WCMH) – Gov. Mike DeWine announced Tuesday that teams assisted by the Ohio National Guard will begin testing nursing home staff and some residents in the state’s fight against COVID-19.

DeWine said the state has 960 nursing homes with approximately 200 of them having a “COVID history.”

“Nursing homes contain some of the most vulnerable members of our society based, of course, on age, but also based on medical condition,” he said.

The goal of the teams is to test all nursing home staff members while testing of residents will be base on assessment, DeWine said.

Fourteen teams of 10 members each, called Congregate Care Unified Response Teams, are set to begin testing this week. The teams will be comprised of members of the Ohio National Guard, local health departments, and local hospitals.

DeWine said the National Guard will be doing the swabbing for the tests, while advance work for the tests will be performed by local health departments and the state’s Medicaid and health departments.

“What they will do is go into a nursing home, do the advance work, and then that will be followed by the National Guard coming in and doing testing,” he said.

Asked why there wasn’t nursing home testing before, DeWine said this is the first they’ve felt the state finally has the testing capacity to do so.

The advance work will determine which residents or parts of the nursing home should be tested for COVID-19, DeWine said.

“This will be a decision that’s based on clinically driven strategy that targets those that have likely been exposed to COVID-19,” he said.

According to the governor, the testing will begin at nursing homes that have had some cases of the coronavirus, either current or in the past.

“My only order to our team has been to deploy the resources we have as quickly as we have and to focus on the goal of saving the most lives that we can, so this is clinically driven, this is medically driven,” DeWine said.

The testing is set to be an ongoing process for a number of weeks, he added, with updates presented to the public on an at least weekly basis.

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