Secretary of Health Order – LTC Testing for COVID-19

Secretary of Health Order – LTC Testing for COVID-19

An order from John Wiesman, WA State Secretary of Health, was released on Thursday, May 28th, directing all nursing facilities to complete universal testing by June 12th and memory care units by June 26th. The order only covers a one-time test, we have been told DOH is currently working on guidance and protocols for repeat/ongoing testing. A second order will be issued (date still TBD) to complete a one-time test in all other LTCF by July 31st. 

  • The order clarifies the responsibility for this testing rests with the facility’s themselves, not local health jurisdictions.  DOH acknowledges that facilities will continue to lean on LHJs for both guidance and support, but their hope is the facilities can manage the logistics. 
  • Facilities that have completed universal testing since April 1st do not need to conduct re-testing at this time. 
  • DOH will distribute testing supplies and PPE directly to facilities, we have been told this will happen on Monday, June 1st
    • Facilities will have the choice of returning samples to the lab they usually contract with or utilizing a DOH contracted courier service (additional information is forthcoming on this). 
  • DOH will pay for the costs of a one-time test for staff, based on the feedback that payment posed both a financial and logistical barrier to completing this test. Tests for residents will still be processed through their Medicare, Medicaid or other insurance company. 
  • DOH has contracted with two labs: UW Virology Testing or Molecular Testing (Vancouver).
    • Staff labs must be sent to these two labs to be covered
    • Resident labs may be sent to these two labs (and processed through insurance), or can be sent to the facility’s preferred lab partner. 
  • While not required, DOH is also working to mobilize the resources to support universal testing of the assisted living facilities associated with memory care units by the June 26th deadline if facilities prefer to test all Staff and residents at the same time. 
  • We have been told staff who are asymptomatic and test positive cannot return to work for 10 days after their positive test was obtained and should be referred for case investigation, contact tracing and isolation/quarantine support.  We have been told some LHJs are suggesting 14 days, and we have been told asymptomatic (+) staff can work with asymptomatic (+) residents in a COVID (+) unit.  We are waiting for further clarification from DOH.
  • If you have staff who are refusing to be tested, RCS is requesting you consult with your field manager for guidance on managing staff refusals.
  • We have questions in to DOH about whether this order will require OPTUM ARNPs, Medical Providers, Hospice/Homecare staff, nursing students and nursing assistant students are also required to be tested at this time, and if so, who will coordinate that testing and who will be covering those tests. We have been told that if you have nursing assistant students in your building between now and June 12th, they will have to be tested. We are waiting to hear from DOH on the other questions.
  • DOH continues to mobilize resources and partnerships to support facilities and LHJs. Please continue to reach out to your local health jurisdiction for any questions-issues you have regarding testing.
  • Please see the Dear Provider Letter for Nursing Homes or Assisted Living facilities for more information.

DOH Secretary Order 20-02 LTCF




Laura Hofmann, MSN, RN

Director of Clinical and Nursing Facility Regulatory Services, LeadingAge Washington 
c: 425-231-4804