According to a new report from the Rockefeller Foundation, the coronavirus testing policies being used in North Carolina are solid enough to serve as an example as to how testing should be implemented across the country.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) was tooting its own horn on Tuesday, July 21 when it sent out a press release announcing the findings of the foundation.
The NCDHHS stated that the work it has been doing to increase COVID-19 testing access, including its “innovative universal testing strategy within skilled nursing facilities,” was cited by the foundation as a model for the country in the just-released National COVID-19 Testing & Tracing Action Plan that the foundation developed.
Put together by a team of public health leaders that included experts from the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, the action plan identifies the best practices and recommendations for improving testing across the US.
The Rockefeller foundation often uses its assets to aid public health efforts, and the foundation is currently focused on helping to tame the coronavirus pandemic.
The experts working on the plan also praise North Carolina’s work to reduce cost barriers – noting that NCDHHS will “act as payer of last resort for all screening tests for those without symptoms, removing a key barrier to such testing.”
NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said Tuesday she hopes the testing model used in North Carolina can help other states.
“Throughout our response to COVID-19 in North Carolina, we have taken a comprehensive approach to protecting long-term care residents, including robust testing protocols,” she said. “This is an unprecedented moment, and states are relying upon one another to determine best practices.”
There are more than 400 nursing homes in North Carolina with about 36,000 residents and over 30,000 workers, and, last month, NCDHHS partnered with Omnicare – a CVS Health company – to increase available testing to residents and staff in North Carolina nursing homes.
Now, NCDHHS is “surging” its testing and contact tracing resources in communities that have been hardest hit by the virus. It has especially focused those efforts on minority populations. The department has contracted with multiple vendors to use up to 300 no-cost testing sites in African American, LatinX/Hispanic and American Indian communities that otherwise would have very limited testing sites.