National News: Pennsylvania nursing home employees resorting to coffee filter face masks during coronavirus outbreak

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By: Angie Moreschi and WPXI.com

Nursing homes in Pittsburgh are taking drastic measures amid the coronavirus pandemic, using coffee filters and rubber bands to make their own face masks to protect patients and staff.

“Everyone in the building that is a direct caregiver, they are required to wear a mask,” said James Cox, owner of Paramount Senior Living.

Parmamount has four senior homes in the Pittsburgh area, with 450 residents. One resident at their Peter’s Township facility was displaying symptoms and was sent to the hospital Friday for testing.

Cox said that is a major concern because under the state health department rules, staff members don’t qualify for testing unless they show symptoms or have had contact with someone who has tested positive.

Cox said that is a major concern because under the state health department rules, staff members don’t qualify for testing unless they show symptoms or have had contact with someone who has tested positive.

“We still don’t have the results. In fact, the hospital is telling us it’s taking anywhere from five to seven days,” said Cox. “We are very concerned about the length of time it’s taking because one of the big challenges we have is our state members are continuing to care for the residents within each building.”

Cox is also concerned because he said there is no “uniform process” to prioritize testing for those on the front lines caring for patients.

When asked about their times to turnaround test results to patients, Dr. Rachel Levine – secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health – said it is “up to 24 hours but also noted slower times at some labs. She said some labs can take days to get results back.

Two of Cox’s employees have been tested for COVID-19 and are awaiting those results.

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