States

States Search for Ways to Deal With COVID-19 Testing Backlogs

HELENA, Montana — States frustrated by private laboratories’ increasingly long turnarounds for COVID-19 test results are scrambling to find ways to salvage their testing programs.

Montana said Wednesday that it is dropping Quest Diagnostics, one of the nation’s largest diagnostic testing companies. The Secaucus, New Jersey-based company had done all the state’s surveillance COVID-19 testing — drive-thru testing that moves from community to community to help track COVID’s spread. But it told state officials last week that it was at capacity and would be unable to accommodate more tests for two or three weeks.

“We don’t want to be left high and dry again in the event that the national demand for testing puts a state like ours onto the back burner,” Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock said.

Instead, he said, the state is enlisting Montana State University’s lab to process up to 500 tests a day and has finalized a

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Trump Administration’s Sudden Shift on COVID Data Leaves States in the Lurch

Just as the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 approaches new highs in some parts of the country, hospital data in Kansas and Missouri is suddenly incomplete or missing.

The Missouri Hospital Association reports that it no longer has access to the data it uses to guide state coronavirus mitigation efforts, and Kansas officials say their hospital data may be delayed.

The Trump administration this week directed hospitals to change how they report data to the federal government and how that data will be made available.

In an email, Missouri Hospital Association spokesperson Dave Dillon called the move “a major disruption.”

“All evidence suggests that Missouri’s numbers are headed in the wrong direction,” Dillon said. “And, for now, we will have very limited situational awareness. That’s all very bad news.”

The absence of the data will make it harder for health and public officials, as well as the general public,

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States Allow In-Person Nursing Home Visits As Families Charge Residents Die ‘Of Broken Hearts’

States across the country are beginning to roll back heart-wrenching policies instituted when the coronavirus pandemic began and allow in-person visits at nursing homes and assisted living centers, offering relief to frustrated families.

For the most part, visitors are required to stay outside and meet relatives in gardens or on patios where they stay at least 6 feet apart, supervised by a staff member. Appointments are scheduled in advance and masks are mandated. Only one or two visitors are permitted at a time.

Before these get-togethers, visitors get temperature checks and answer screening questions to assess their health. Hugs or other physical contact are not allowed. If residents or staff at a facility develop new cases of COVID-19, visitation is not permitted.

As of July 7, 26 states and the District of Columbia had given the go-ahead to nursing home visits under these circumstances, according to LeadingAge, an association of

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Colorado, Like Other States, Trims Health Programs Amid Health Crisis

As a teenager, Paulina Castle struggled for years with suicidal thoughts. When her mental health was at its most fragile, she would isolate herself, spending days in her room alone.

“That’s the exact thing that makes you feel significantly worse,” the 26-year-old Denver woman said. “It creates a cycle where you’re constantly getting dug into a deeper hole.”

Part of her recovery involved forcing herself to leave her room to socialize or to exercise outside. But the COVID-19 pandemic has made all of that much harder. Instead of interacting with people on the street in her job as a political canvasser, she is working at home on the phone. And with social distancing rules in place, she has fewer opportunities to meet with friends.

“Since the virus started,” she said, “it’s been a lot easier to fall back into that cycle.”

Between the challenges of the pandemic, the social unrest

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