Kansas nursing homes now have a COVID metric from the KDHE

Kansas nursing homes now have a metric for the coronavirus pandemic that is used to determine how often staff should be tested for COVID-19.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s online COVID-19 dashboard on Wednesday displayed a tab with “nursing home metrics: 14-day percent positivity.” The statistics are connected to a rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, that requires routine testing of staff, depending on a community indicator.

“Routine testing should be based on the extent of the virus in the community, therefore facilities should use their county positivity rate in the prior week as the trigger for staff testing frequency,” David Wright, the director of the Quality and Safety Oversight Group, said in an Aug. 26 memo from the CMS.

Facilities in a county with low community activity, defined as a positive test rate below 5%, are required to test staff at least once a month. Residents are not included in the required routine testing.

Medium activity is between 5% and 10% while high activity is above 10%. Facilities in counties with medium activity must test at least once a week. That increases to twice a week for counties with high activity.

The rule is “aimed at preventing COVID-19 from entering nursing homes, detecting cases quickly, and stopping transmission,” Wright said. “Swift identification of confirmed COVID-19 cases allows the facility to take immediate action to remove exposure risks to nursing home residents and staff.”

The KDHE metric features a color-coded map of Kansas counties with the positive test rate for the 14-day period starting Sept. 13. Green represents low activity, yellow represents medium and red represents high. The Kansas metric also factors in low levels of testing compared to population, allowing some counties to stay in the green or yellow zone even if

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