CSU scientists to test asymptomatic workers, residents at 30 nursing homes

Coronavirus
The swab used for a nasal test for the new coronavirus on Colorado Governor Jared Polis, not in the picture, is held by registered nurse Stephanie Campbell during a news conference outside the Stride Community Health Center Monday, May 18, 2020, in Wheat Ridge, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The swab used for a nasal test for the new coronavirus on Colorado Governor Jared Polis, not in the picture, is held by registered nurse Stephanie Campbell during a news conference outside the Stride Community Health Center Monday, May 18, 2020, in Wheat Ridge, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Scientists from Colorado State University will test for coronavirus in workers and residents at up to 30 skilled nursing facilities across Colorado, the state health department announced Wednesday.

CSU will work with the state to identify the facilities with the highest priority for surveillance testing. The list of specific facilities has not yet been announced.

The health department said each facility will receive eight consecutive weeks of testing. Most of the funding for the study will go toward testing asymptomatic workers.

“The tests will provide an early warning system for public health officials and managers at long-term care facilities,” the health department said in a statement. “This will help prevent outbreaks, monitor the risk of exposure for residents, and help recovered workers return to work.”

The project is a partnership between Colorado State University and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. CSU will receive $4.2 million as part of the agreement.

The health department said the new initiative builds on a pilot project launched earlier this year. At the end of April, researchers tested 454 workers at five skilled nursing facilities across the state. Researchers found that 13.1% of workers who did not show symptoms tested positive for the virus.

According to the health department, more than 50% of the people who have died of coronavirus in Colorado have been older adults and people with disabilities who live in high-density group settings like nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

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