Per Abbott's order, state agencies were required to develop and execute a plan to test nursing home residents and staff, with fire departments instructed to complete the testing by May 25. Dan Berger, manager of risk reduction at PFD, said the department has worked with area nursing homes since March.
“From the earliest reports of COVID-19, we knew that nursing homes presented substantial opportunities for spreading the virus,” Berger said in the release. “The elderly and those with underlying health concerns are the most vulnerable to the disease.”
PFD's monitoring of area nursing homes includes weekly status check-ins with nursing home administrators, per the release. The department has also provided personal protective equipment for staff members and tracks tests conducted on staff and residents, per the release.
Testing is done via nasal swabs, which are labeled and sent to surrounding labs for evaluation, the release said. While Berger said in the release that nursing homes should be able to conduct the tests on their own, firefighters and emergency medical technicians are available and trained to administer them.
“This type of testing is not something we normally do,” Pflugerville Fire Department Chief Ron Moellenberg said in the release. “But all our operational staff members are trained as emergency medical technicians, and many are paramedics, the most advanced level. We can do this.”
PFD is funded and operated by Travis County Emergency Services District No. 2, which provides emergency medical response and fire protection in northeastern Travis County.