Newest County health order adds testing requirement at skilled nursing facilities

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With the spread of Omicron now responsible for more than 40 percent of new COVID-19 cases in Yolo County, Yolo County’s health officer on Thursday issued a new health order requiring individuals working in those skilled nursing facilities to test for COVID-19 twice a week regardless of vaccination status.

Visitors must also provide proof of a negative test regardless of vaccination status — a negative test within one day for antigen tests and within two days for PCR tests.

Exceptions will be made in the case of compassionate care visits, such as for a dying resident.

The health order took effect on Monday and will remain in effect through Jan. 31 unless otherwise ordered by Health Officer Dr. Aimee Sisson.

In issuing the new health order, Sisson said, “the highly transmissible Omicron variant will be difficult to stop once it is introduced into a skilled nursing facility, so we need to take additional steps to keep the virus out of these facilities in the first place.

“Requiring everybody entering a facility to have a recent negative test for COVID-19 is a critical step to keep residents safe.”

While vaccinations, including booster doses, provide vital protection against serious COVID-19 disease, older with underlying conditions may still develop severe COVID-19 illness despite vaccination, the county noted in a press release.

Testing all individuals entering skilled nursing facilities will reduce introduction of the virus into facilities, the county said. Because even fully vaccinated and boosted individuals can become infected with the Omicron variant, verifying staff and visitor vaccination status is not sufficient to protect vulnerable residents.

Skilled nursing facilities in Yolo County have been hard hit by COVID-19. Of the county’s 266 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, 27 percent occurred among residents of skilled nursing facilities.

The new health order will affect a total of six Yolo County facilities in the cities of Davis, Woodland and West Sacramento.

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