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Press Release

Puerto Rico U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Elder Justice Task Force Launch Nursing Home Testing Initiative

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Puerto Rico


SAN JUAN, P.R. – Puerto Rico U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow and the Elder Justice Task Force (EJTF) announced today the launch of an island-wide COVID-19 testing initiative for all residents and employees in Puerto Rico’s long-term care facilities. This multi-agency, multi-sectoral initiative will cover over 1,000 facilities, 28,000 residents, and 9,000 employees and caregivers during the next three weeks. This effort has been possible with the support of the P.R. Department of Health, the P.R. Governor’s Medical Task Force, the P.R. Family Affairs Department, the P.R. Department of Justice’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, the P.R. National Guard, the P.R. Office of the Ombudsman for the Elderly, as well as the participating Federally Qualified Health Centers (330 Centers), with grants from Direct Relief, a humanitarian organization whose mission is to improve the health and lives of those affected by poverty or emergencies.

The members of the EJTF have spent the past weeks developing protocols and guidelines to prevent and contain the spread of COVID-19 in Puerto Rico’s long-term care facilities. As Puerto Rico entered lock-down and cancellation of visits in nursing homes in mid-March, it became clear that a protocol had to be set in place to handle suspected cases of COVID-19 in nursing homes. The EJTF, with the help of specialists, developed an algorithm to handle suspected cases of COVID-19 in these facilities.

Last week, the P.R. Department of Health provided 50,000 rapid test kits for the initiative, which will be backed up by molecular (PCR) testing, pursuant to the agreed upon protocols. Today we launch this initiative in three long-term care facilities, and we also embark on a larger proactive initiative with the assistance of the P.R. National Guard. With the help of the P.R. National Guard, we expect to test all seniors and employees in Puerto Rico’s nursing homes within the next three weeks.

Once the initiative is fully implemented, up to 100 teams per day will be in the field conducting COVID-19 testing. The strategy has incorporated an online platform created by the P.R. Family Affairs Department to input data and generate reports with testing results, at the end of each day’s missions. The P.R. Department of Health’s Epidemiology Office has also pledged its support for this effort, and will conduct contact tracing as well as provide counseling to nursing facilities and assist with placement of residents, if needed.

U.S. Attorney Muldrow stated, "The well-being of our senior citizens during this pandemic is one of our top priorities. I commend the efforts of the Elder Justice Task Force and those who have joined our mission during this emergency. Their selfless commitment to this cause is humbling and a testament to the resiliency of the human spirit."

The mission of the Elder Justice Initiative is to support and coordinate the Department’s enforcement and programmatic efforts to combat elder abuse, neglect, and financial fraud and scams that target our nation’s seniors. The efforts of Puerto Rico’s Elder Justice Task Force are led by EJI Coordinator, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacqueline Novas. Suspected cases of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities should be reported to the following number: (787) 523-0802.

Updated April 19, 2020

Elder Justice
Community Outreach