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How can nursing facilities be safe without adequate testing? | READER COMMENTARY

In this April 17, 2020, photo, Dr. Gabrielle Beger, left, takes a nose-swab sample from Lawrence McGee, right, as she works with a team of University of Washington medical providers conducting testing for the new coronavirus at Queen Anne Healthcare, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility in Seattle. More than 100 residents were tested during the visit, and the results for all were negative, according to officials. Sending "drop teams" from University of Washington Medicine to conduct universal testing at skilled nursing facilities in collaboration with public health officials is one aspect of the region's approach to controlling the spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
In this April 17, 2020, photo, Dr. Gabrielle Beger, left, takes a nose-swab sample from Lawrence McGee, right, as she works with a team of University of Washington medical providers conducting testing for the new coronavirus at Queen Anne Healthcare, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility in Seattle. More than 100 residents were tested during the visit, and the results for all were negative, according to officials. Sending "drop teams" from University of Washington Medicine to conduct universal testing at skilled nursing facilities in collaboration with public health officials is one aspect of the region's approach to controlling the spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) (Ted S. Warren/AP)

Yesterday I was informed that the the dementia facility in Towson where my husband lives has a single known case of COVID-19. The person who called assured me that they were taking all precautions and care recommended by the Maryland Department of Health (“Maryland won’t detail nursing home coronavirus outbreaks, saying ‘disclosure serves no public health purpose,'” April 23). They have plenty of protective gear and they have isolated the patient in a separate wing.

My first question after hearing this was, ”What about testing?” I asked this question of the woman who called me, the director of the facility, and the office of my husband’s doctor. I was told by everyone that Maryland tests only symptomatic patients. That makes no sense.

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Here we have a finite population of residents and workers, a perfect case for tracing and isolating the sick and protecting the others. How can we let this situation evolve in ignorance?

Betsy McNamara, Timonium

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