Prison Workers Get Free Testing; Gear Going To Nursing Homes

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina government is offering widespread testing or protective equipment to workers in two of the more vulnerable living settings for COVID-19 outbreaks.

The Department of Public Safety unveiled on Thursday a plan to make free testing available starting next week to over 21,000 employees in state prisons or juvenile facilities or those who supervise offenders in the community, such as probation officers.

An earlier plan from the state employee health insurance plan to offer free direct testing didn’t happen, apparently due to logistics problems. Under the new initiative, testing will occur at FastMed Urgent Care locations, with results provided through LabCorp.

Gov. Roy Cooper also said Thursday that packages of personal protective equipment are being sent to each of the state’s 3,800 long-term care facilities, which include nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, adult care homes and group homes. Packets for workers include a 10-to-14-day supply of procedure masks, face shields, gloves and shoe covers, according to a state agency presentation to lawmakers Thursday.

More than half of the 615 people in North Carolina whose deaths were related to COVID-19 were residents in nursing homes, according to state health data. And more than 600 state prisoner inmates have tested positive, five of whom have died.