HealthDay News — Reductions in COVID-19 cases and deaths were seen among residents of skilled nursing facilities in association with greater surveillance testing of staff members, according to a study published in the March 23 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Brian E. McGarry, P.T., Ph.D., from the University of Rochester in New York, and colleagues used data obtained from 2020 to 2022 regarding testing for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 among staff members in 13,424 skilled nursing facilities before vaccine approval, before the omicron variant wave, and during the omicron wave. Adjusted differences in outcomes of COVID-19 cases and deaths among residents during potential outbreaks were examined at high-testing facilities and low-testing facilities (90th and 10th percentile, respectively).
Researchers found that 519.7 and 591.2 cases of COVID-19 per 100 potential outbreaks were reported among residents of high- vs low-testing facilities during the overall study period. Furthermore, there were 42.7 and 49.8 deaths per 100 potential outbreaks in high- and low-testing facilities, respectively. High- and low-testing facilities had 759.9 and 1,060.2 cases, respectively, per 100 potential outbreaks before vaccine availability, and 125.2 and 166.8 deaths, respectively. The numbers of cases and deaths were similar in high- and low-testing facilities before the omicron wave, while during the omicron wave, fewer cases were seen at high-testing facilities. Deaths were similar at high- and low-testing facilities.
“Greater surveillance testing of staff members in skilled nursing facilities was associated with clinically meaningful reductions in COVID-19 cases and deaths among residents,” the authors write.