In the near future, the Washington State Secretary of Health will be issuing written directives to skilled nursing facilities related to mandatory COVID-19 testing. Under Secretary John Weisman’s order, all residents and staff will be required to be tested for COVID-19 within two weeks of the issuing of the directive. All skilled nursing facilities that have completed testing for all residents and staff anytime after April 1, 2020, will likely be exempted from this requirement. All tests and PPE will be provided to each skilled nursing facility in order to ensure prompt completion of this directive. More details will be forthcoming.
Following the completion of skilled nursing facility testing, the state will begin working with assisted living facilities with dedicated memory care units to accomplish testing for all residents and staff there. Assisted living facilities without memory care units will follow after testing in memory care units is complete. Any facility having already conducted testing of residents and staff since April 1, 2020, will be exempted from the testing requirement. Routine testing of staff, likely to be every two weeks, will also be expected in all long term care facilities.
There are many questions yet unanswered, and WHCA is working with regulatory agencies to solidify answers to those questions. Those questions include but are not limited to:
- If facilities have already conducted their own testing, how or will they be expected to forward their results, and if so, to whom?
- Who will do the ordering of tests in assisted living and memory care units? Who will order tests for staff?
- Who will bear the cost of staff testing if the staff person does not have insurance?
- Who will conduct the testing in facilities where staff is unable?
- What types of tests will be conducted? (There was some discussion, particularly in memory care settings, where anterior nasal testing would likely be better than the deep-dive nasopharyngeal tests.)
- If a resident and/or staff has tested positive and recovered, will they be required to take another test?
While there seem to be more questions than answers, WHCA wants to keep members informed regarding these testing issues and will update you as we get more answers. If you have questions, please email
In the meantime, please reassess your PPE allotment and consider once again steps you will take in your community if any positive cases result from this testing.