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Nevada Revokes Halt on Rapid Antigen Testing in Nursing Homes

A week later, however, Admiral Giroir cracked down on Nevada’s “illegal” prohibition on BD’s and Quidel’s tests, which he said had imperiled the residents and staff of nursing homes across the state. “They cannot supersede the PREP Act,” he said.

The false positives that had emerged, Admiral Giroir said, were not only expected but “actually an outstanding result.” No test is perfect, he said.

In the Nevada statement, Dr. Azzam reaffirmed his concerns with the number of false positives that had arisen. “If this laboratory data discrepancy had been reported to Dr. Giroir, we would hope he would have taken the same action as Nevada,” he said. “We too want more testing with rapid turnaround in Nevada, but the results of those tests must be accurate, as they affect clinical care.”

The state’s nursing facilities can resume use of BD’s and Quidel’s products, according to a new Nevada directive issued on Oct. 9. But Nevada’s department of health also recommended that all antigen test results, positive or negative, be confirmed by a laboratory test that relies on a slow but very accurate and reliable technique called polymerase chain reaction, or P.C.R. False negatives, officials noted, risk exposing healthy people in nursing homes to someone who is unknowingly contagious. False positives, on the other hand, could prompt the placement of a person who is well into a unit with sick people, also increasing the chance of infection.

“Both of these scenarios could result in causing harm to a population that we have collectively worked so hard to protect,” the directive said. State health officials, it said, would also continue to investigate the use of BD’s and Quidel’s products.

“We need to better understand the issue before encouraging mass use of such tools among our most vulnerable citizens,” Dr. Azzam said. “We

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HHS Testing Czar Rips Nevada for Stopping Rapid Tests in Nursing Homes

WASHINGTON — Nevada public health officials’ recent actions preventing nursing homes from using rapid screening tests for COVID-19 are “unjustified” and don’t follow the science on testing, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “testing czar” Adm. Brett Giroir, MD, said Friday.

The state’s actions are “not scientifically valid. They must cease their prohibition immediately,” Giroir said on a phone call with reporters. “If you need technical support,” he told the nursing homes, “we are enthusiastic to do more. Lives are at stake and our administration is not going to allow action to risk our seniors or any other vulnerable or underserved population.”

Letter Sent to Nursing Homes

On October 2, the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services sent a letter to healthcare providers and long-term care facilities, noting that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services had sent point-of-care antigen tests to nursing homes across the country — specifically, the Quidel Sofia test and Becton Dickinson’s Veritor test. The letter noted that according to the FDA’s emergency use authorization data, Quidel claimed 87% sensitivity and 100% specificity for its test, while Becton Dickinson’s numbers were 97.5% and 100%, respectively.

“However, this was based on extremely limited data,” wrote Ihsan Azzam, MD, PhD, the state’s chief medical officer, and two colleagues. The state conducted its own test after it “started receiving anecdotal reports from SNFs [skilled nursing facilities] that individuals with a positive antigen test were subsequently testing negative” with polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays, generally considered the most accurate. The state looked at data from 12 nursing homes that conducted 3,725 rapid tests, of which 60 came back positive. Of those, 39 were sent for PCR testing; 16 (40%) came back as true positives while 23 (60%) were false positives.

“Possible reasons for conflicting test results include lack

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HHS testing official warns Nevada must drop antigen testing ban

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COVID-19 widespread testing is crucial to fighting the pandemic, but is there enough testing? The answer is in the positivity rates.

USA TODAY

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ top testing official said Friday Nevada’s ban on rapid coronavirus tests in nursing homes could “endanger lives” and urged state health officials to immediately reverse course.

Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir said Nevada would face unspecified enforcement actions if state health officials did not remove an order instructing nursing homes to discontinue use of point-of-care antigen testing machines made by two companies, Quidel and Becton, Dickinson.

HHS  “expects immediate action from Nevada to reverse its unwise, uninformed and unlawful unilateral prohibition,” Giroir said Friday in a phone call with reporters. “Lives are at stake and our administration is not going to allow actions to risk our seniors or any other vulnerable or underserved population.”

Nevada health officials did not immediately return calls or emails from USA TODAY.

On Oct. 2, Nevada officials ordered nursing homes and other long-term facilities to discontinue use of the antigen testing instruments authorized by Food and Drug Administration “until the accuracy of the tests can be better evaluated.”

 (Photo: Becton, Dickinson)

The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services chief medical officer and two other high-ranking health officials cited a high rate of false positive results at eight facilities that used the antigen tests, according to a bulletin for nursing homes and health-care providers.

But Giroir said Nevada’s ban represents a misunderstanding of the role of testing machines in screening large numbers of people who might unknowingly pass the virus to others.

HHS has purchased and sent rapid antigen testing instruments to nearly 14,000 nursing homes nationwide as part of a strategy to protect vulnerable seniors. Deaths in nursing homes represent up

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Drop ‘unwise, uninformed and unlawful’ ban on rapid testing in nursing homes

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ top testing official said Friday Nevada’s ban on rapid coronavirus tests in nursing homes could “endanger lives” and urged state health officials to immediately reverse course.

Why widespread COVID-19 testing is crucial to fighting the coronavirus pandemic

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Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir said Nevada would face unspecified enforcement actions if state health officials did not remove an order instructing nursing homes to discontinue use of point-of-care antigen testing machines made by two companies, Quidel and Becton, Dickinson.

HHS  “expects immediate action from Nevada to reverse its unwise, uninformed and unlawful unilateral prohibition,” Giroir said Friday in a phone call with reporters. “Lives are at stake and our administration is not going to allow actions to risk our seniors or any other vulnerable or underserved population.”



Brett Giroir wearing a suit and tie: Adm. Brett Giroir, director of U.S. coronavirus diagnostic testing, looks on as he testifies during a House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on a national plan to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 31, 2020.


© Kevin Dietsch, AFP via Getty Images
Adm. Brett Giroir, director of U.S. coronavirus diagnostic testing, looks on as he testifies during a House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on a national plan to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 31, 2020.

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Nevada health officials did not immediately return calls or emails from USA TODAY.

On Oct. 2, Nevada officials ordered nursing homes and other long-term facilities to discontinue use of the antigen testing instruments authorized by Food and Drug Administration “until the accuracy of the tests can be better evaluated.”

The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services chief medical officer and two other high-ranking health officials cited a high rate of false positive results at eight facilities that used the antigen tests, according to a bulletin for nursing homes and health-care providers.

But Giroir said Nevada’s ban represents

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No new COVID-19 cases reported Tuesday, N.S. introduces more improvements in testing

Premier Stephen McNeil announced that Nova Scotia is introducing more improvements in COVID-19 testing after reporting no new cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday. 



Stephen McNeil wearing a suit and tie


© THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan


“Testing is an important part of the public health measures,” said McNeil. “Our testing strategy has been working very well, but there are always improvements we can make. These changes will allow people to be tested easier and faster.”

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Read more: No new cases of COVID-19 reported in N.S. on Monday

According to McNeil, the IWK Health Centre will expand its primary assessment centre to double its capacity and increase the speed of testing for children. The expansion will be fully operational by the third week of October.

The IWK will also start using the gargle test on Wednesday to diagnose COVID-19 in children ages four to 18.

The province said the gargle test is a more comfortable test for children. Once it has piloted the process, the gargle test will soon be available for children at all primary assessment centres.

Read more: Hosts charged after RCMP disperse 3 Antigonish parties with more than 50 people

With online COVID-19 self-assessment now in place, online booking for testing appointments will also be established.

“It will dramatically reduce the wait time to book an appointment. The online process will take about 10 minutes, down from 24 to 48 hours,” the province stated.

The province announced other improvements, including:

Expanding most primary assessment centres around the province with larger locations, longer hours and more staff so that Nova Scotians can get tested faster.

Increasing lab capacity in Halifax to process 2,500 tests per day by mid-November.

Adding equipment in Sydney in early November to eventually process tests instead of sending them to Halifax.

“Testing is a key part of our overall COVID-19

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