Houston-area nursing facility reacts to Gov. Abbott's testing order

All residents and staff at Texas nursing homes must now be tested for COVID-19, after a directive issued by Governor Greg Abbott Monday.

The Governor directed three agencies within the state to come up with a plan to implement these new testing measures for nursing homes.

MORE: Abbott directs all nursing home residents, staff to be tested for COVID-19

The goal is to identify and contain any potential clusters that could break out at these facilities.

The Governor's directive instructed the state department's Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), the Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), and State Health Services (DSHS) to test every single resident and staff in all nursing homes in Texas. 

The order asks all three state agencies to formulate a plan based on the guidance of Vice President Mike Pence and White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx.

MORE: White House recommends tests for all nursing home residents

Jeff Smith is the Senior VP of Sales and Marketing with Integral Senior Living, the parent company that manages The Shores at Clear Lake -- a retirement and assisted living facility. 

Smith said the company is now working to figure out if the directive applies to their facilities.

"Our community is is senior living so we're not a skilled nursing facility. This has come up in a few other states and we've had conversations. We don't know if it's just skilled nursing facilities or of senior living communities are included in that group. In some states, no, but if we are, which again we'll go with that assumption that senior livings are excluded. If it does, then yes, we're all for it," Smith said. 


Smith says the company is also trying to figure out a potential schedule to determine how often a re-test needs to be done across their 80 facilities nationwide, in order to keep their residents and staff safe.

"I think once we go down the road of having to test people, it's going to have to be consistent because you may test negative today. But you do something later in the week and you come across somebody and all of a sudden you can be positive," Smith said. 

FOX 26 reached out to a spokesperson with the State’s Health and Human Services Commission for clarification on the testing order. 

In a statement, they said, "Our top priority is protecting the health, safety and well-being of the people we serve, including residents and staff in licensed nursing facilities we regulate. We are working closely with DSHS and TDEM to develop and carry out this plan, which builds upon efforts to expand COVID-19 testing in Texas, especially for our most vulnerable Texans. According to industry estimates there are approximately 150,000 staff and more than 80,000 residents at nursing facilities throughout Texas. More information about this plan will be available once details are finalized. Of course, please feel free to check back with us for updates."