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Testing Requirement Dropped For Disability Facilities

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration on Friday announced it is backing off a requirement that facilities for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities test staff members for COVID-19 every two weeks.

The move followed the administration’s decision this month to no longer require  assisted living facilities and nursing homes to test staff members.

Suzanne Sewell, president and CEO of the Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, said that effective Wednesday, facilities for people with disabilities will no longer receive from the state testing kits needed to meet the mandate.

The company Curative, which signed an agreement with the state to supply the test kits, won’t provide results for any tests postmarked after Oct. 1, Sewell said in a statement to The News Service of Florida.

The state’s announcement was published Friday in the Florida Administrative Register.

Meanwhile, the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities told members of the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council that the testing rule also would be eliminated for group homes at the end of the month.

When the state let expire a pair of emergency rules that mandated staff testing at nursing homes and assisted living facilities, Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew said they could expire, in part, because nursing homes would still be required to test staff under a federal rule. Nursing homes are receiving rapid testing kits from the federal government to comply with the rule.

But the federal rule does not require assisted living facilities, what are known as intermediate care facilities for people with developmental disabilities or group homes to test staff members.

As of Thursday, 342 people with developmental or intellectual disabilities had contracted COVID-19, and 59 had died, according to state figures. Another 357 staff members at private group homes or institutions had contracted the virus, and 10 people had died.

Fifty-five employees of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities had tested positive for COVID-19, and another 46 agency employees were quarantined.