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State: Unvaccinated Cape Cod nursing home employees must take rapid tests before shifts

Cape Cod Times - 7/21/2021

Jul. 21—State public health officials are requiring all unvaccinated employees at long-term care facilities on Cape Cod to take a rapid test for COVID-19 before starting their work day.

The memorandum issued on Monday by Elizabeth D. Kelley, director of the Bureau of Health Care Safety and Quality at the state Department of Public Health, follows the discovery of COVID-19 in several Cape nursing homes.

Kelley referred to "a marked increase in new cases identified in the region in the past week" in the memo directed to administrators of long-term care centers in Barnstable County.

Nursing homes are now required to test any staff people who are not fully vaccinated with the BinaxNOW rapid test on their arrival at work and before they begin their shift.

Long-term care centers also must continue to conduct weekly surveillance testing on each employee who is not fully vaccinated.

A DPH official said COVID-19 cases have been found in six nursing homes but did not name them.

The Times has reported an outbreak of 33 cases at Maplewood at Mayflower in West Yarmouth and the closure to visitors of RegalCare in Harwich due to COVID-19. The DPH Tuesday confirmed two cases among staff at the Harwich nursing home.

In addition, David A. Ball, a spokesperson for Pleasant Bay Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Brewster, said Tuesday that an employee at the facility tested positive as part of routine screening and will not return to work until cleared of infection.

Ball said no current residents at Pleasant Bay have tested positive for COVID-19, but a resident who is in the hospital has tested positive.


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