Feds: Nevada must rescind order on nursing home COVID tests
LAS VEGAS — Federal health administrators are telling Nevada officials they have to rescind a statewide directive issued several days ago telling nursing homes to suspend the use of two types of rapid COVID-19 tests due to the likelihood of false positive results.
Dr. Brett Giroir, head of COVID-19 diagnostic testing efforts at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said Friday that Nevada is prohibited by federal law from imposing the ban it ordered Oct. 2.
Giroir acknowledged there’s “no perfect test” for the virus that poses a particular risk of severe illness or death to older adults and people with existing health problems.
He said Nevada was the only state to take such action.
Nevada nursing homes and long-term care facilities were instructed by state Epidemiologist Melissa Peek-Bullock to quit using point-of-care antigen tests from two companies, Quidel Sofia and Becton Dickinson, because officials found that among the 60 positive results found since July the number of so-called “false positives” was 60%.
The results came from follow-up testing using more definitive polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests.
Giroir told reporters that false positives are a fact of life in virus screening, and the value of identifying 40% of true positives is a lifesaving matter for nursing homes.