Statement from Sen. Berger on Gov. Cooper’s Decision to Wait Four Months before Testing Nursing Homes

Duke Univ. Professor on state’s delayed testing plan: “People are going to die that don’t have to die”

Raleigh, N.C. — The North Carolina Watchdog Reporting Network, comprising seven of the biggest newsrooms in the state, published an alarming story about the lack of COVID-19 testing in nursing homes.

In the report, Gov. Cooper’s administration argued on the record that mass testing of nursing homes “is not a solution to prevent infection.”

But days before making that statement, the Cooper Administration issued a press release that argued just the opposite: “Testing is an important component of the state’s strategy to slow the spread of the virus.”

Which is it?

In a statement reacting to the report, Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said, “The Cooper Administration’s indefensible position is that testing will slow the spread of Covid — except for in nursing homes, where Gov. Cooper has failed to stand up a mass testing program four months into the pandemic. As the virus wreaked havoc on nursing homes in other states months ago, the Cooper Administration should have made this the top priority.”

The Republican-led General Assembly has allocated millions of dollars in funding to the Cooper Administration to expand testing, beginning in April. The most recent allocation came in June, with $100 million appropriated for, among other things, “periodic Covid-19 testing for surveillance and occupational safety, particularly but not exclusively with respect to long-term care staff working in congregate living settings.”

Among the reporting collaborative’s other findings:

“Yet four months into the pandemic, North Carolina still lacks a plan for regular testing in [nursing homes], where Covid-19 has hit hardest.”

“Experts say North Carolina’s turn toward broad-based testing comes too late.”

“Charlene Harrington, a professor emerita in the School of Nursing at the University of California, San Francisco, who has been studying long-term care for two decades, called the state’s plan ‘inadequate.’”

“‘People are going to die that don’t have to die,’ said Don Taylor, professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University.”

The official Medium account for N.C. Senate Leader Phil Berger’s press office.

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