For the last month, nursing home staffers were being tested twice a month for coronavirus.

This week, New York officials scaled that back as nursing homes believe the crisis for now has stabilized. 

What You Need To Know

  • Nursing homes believe the worst is over with the virus.

  • But policy makers and facilities are preparing for a potential second wave.

  • They are being asked to develop a "pandemic plan" to be better prepared.

"Everybody understood it was a good idea to test," said Neil Heyman, the president of the Southern New York Association, a group that represents nursing homes and long-term care facilities. "The priority is safety for the residents and safety for the workers. The testing was a good thing to do."

Nursing home deaths directly caused or believed to have been casued by the virus climbed to more than 6,000 people during the coronavirus pandemic. But now nursing homes in New York say they are better prepared for a potential second spike. 

"It has to be a coordinated effort between all levels of health care -- all entities in the health care system have to be working togehter," Heyman said. "The hospitals, the nursing homes, the governor's office."

The testing at nursing homes was massive, with hundreds of thousands of tests conducted alone for staff. Some nursing homes chafed at the requirement, calling it onerous for staff and took time away from caring for patients.

"The priority is safety for the residents and safety for the workers because this is going to find out the degree and seriousness of the problem was and is. 

Heyman says nursing homes and long-term care facilities are better prepared if a second spike occurs. COVID-positive residents have been separated from those who are not sick. And staff are designated to work only with those who are COVID positive. 

In the Legislature meanwhile lawmakers like Assemblyman Joe Lentol are pushing for nursing homes to have a pandemic plan in place. 

"I'm sure that there is plenty of blame to go around, but what we have to do is ensure this never happens again," Lentol said. 

And hopefully the plans, which require stocking personal protective equipment, having a system of notifying family members and publishing that infomration online, will prevent a wave of deaths if a second spike occurs.

"There wasn't preparation enough to figure out because we knew this affected older people more than younger people," Lentol said, "and if an infection got into a nursing home, we were in big trouble and should have done something about it."

And for now state officials say New York's overall infection remains below 2 percent of the thousands tested each day.