Facility-Wide Testing for SARS-CoV-2 in Nursing Homes - Seven U.S. Jurisdictions, March-June 2020

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2020 Aug 11;69(32):1095-1099. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6932e5.


Undetected infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) contributes to transmission in nursing homes, settings where large outbreaks with high resident mortality have occurred (1,2). Facility-wide testing of residents and health care personnel (HCP) can identify asymptomatic and presymptomatic infections and facilitate infection prevention and control interventions (3-5). Seven state or local health departments conducted initial facility-wide testing of residents and staff members in 288 nursing homes during March 24-June 14, 2020. Two of the seven health departments conducted testing in 195 nursing homes as part of facility-wide testing all nursing homes in their state, which were in low-incidence areas (i.e., the median preceding 14-day cumulative incidence in the surrounding county for each jurisdiction was 19 and 38 cases per 100,000 persons); 125 of the 195 nursing homes had not reported any COVID-19 cases before the testing. Ninety-five of 22,977 (0.4%) persons tested in 29 (23%) of these 125 facilities had positive SARS-CoV-2 test results. The other five health departments targeted facility-wide testing to 93 nursing homes, where 13,443 persons were tested, and 1,619 (12%) had positive SARS-CoV-2 test results. In regression analyses among 88 of these nursing homes with a documented case before facility-wide testing occurred, each additional day between identification of the first case and completion of facility-wide testing was associated with identification of 1.3 additional cases. Among 62 facilities that could differentiate results by resident and HCP status, an estimated 1.3 HCP cases were identified for every three resident cases. Performing facility-wide testing immediately after identification of a case commonly identifies additional unrecognized cases and, therefore, might maximize the benefits of infection prevention and control interventions. In contrast, facility-wide testing in low-incidence areas without a case has a lower proportion of test positivity; strategies are needed to further optimize testing in these settings.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques*
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Coronavirus Infections / transmission
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Patient-to-Professional / prevention & control
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Professional-to-Patient / prevention & control
  • Nursing Homes*
  • Pandemics / prevention & control*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / prevention & control*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / transmission
  • United States / epidemiology