Northam changes position, releases nursing home virus data

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is releasing the names of nursing homes that have had a coronavirus outbreak.

The announcement reverses his earlier policy of withholding the information over privacy concerns. Northam announced Friday that he is directing the Virginia Department of Health to release the names on its website.

“The lockdowns of long-term care facilities to protect residents and staff from the spread of COVID-19 have been hard on residents and their families,” Northam said in a press release.

He says the widespread nature of the pandemic makes it less likely that releasing this information would violate someone’s privacy or limit cooperation with a public health investigation.

Officials say recently released data from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has been inconsistent, creating “public confusion.”

Virginia will also spend an additional $246 million in new funding to support nursing homes and assisted living facilities to address staffing shortages, increasing infection control measures and purchasing personal protective equipment

The additional funds will also help the facilities comply with the new testing requirements. The majority of funding will go to nursing facilities, which receive Medicaid payments.

“These actions will help support long-term care facilities as they ease those restrictions, while keeping their residents safe and ensuring that the public gets accurate information on the spread of this virus in these facilities,” Northam said.

Republicans blasted Northam, saying he had the legal authority to release the names much earlier.

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