It was February 29th of this year when the first reports came in from Kirkland Washington, the first death from the Covid-19 virus, and the first healthcare worker to be infected. At a nursing facility in Kirkland, Washington, 27 of the 108 residents and 25 of the 180 staff have some symptoms. The deceased, a man in his 50s with underlying health conditions, was not a resident of the facility, and officials have not yet found a link between his case and the outbreak in the nursing facility.

Although much of the nation’s focus has been on the surge of Covid-19 cases and deaths in New York and other large cities, the overlooked epicenter of the pandemic is our nation’s nursing homes, veterans’ homes, and other long-term care facilities. At the end of April, with data available from 30 states, in one-third of them more than 40% of the statewide Covid-19 deaths were in long-term care facilities. Preventing new infections will limit the needless deaths of thousands of Americans, reduce the demand for personal protective equipment, and lower the risks of infection borne by frontline health care workers.

Now Michigan is mandating testing of all nursing home residents and workers. The state health department reported Monday that 1,947 of Michigan's 5,772 coronavirus deaths have been linked to nursing home residents. About 12 percent of all COVID-19 infections have been nursing home residents.

About 3,100 nursing home residents have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, DHHS Director Robert Gordon said Monday. At this point, we are aggressively focused on doing everything we can to reduce the loss of life moving forward," Gordon said during a conference call with reporters. He also said the state waited to mandate testing until "we felt there was adequate supply" of COVID-19 testing supplies.

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