Nearly one-third of COVID-19 deaths in the United States are linked to nursing homes, according to the New York Times, and as many as 1 in 10 nursing home residents have died from the virus.
These numbers are particularly worrisome as state and local governments across the country begin to relax their restrictions around COVID-19, and private businesses are now left to enforce health and safety standards on their own.
The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention recently updated its recommendations for vaccinated individuals, but has stated that those with an increased risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 should still take precautions. In addition, the CDC has recommended that even vaccinated individuals who live in a group setting should be tested for COVID-19 if they have suspected exposure, even if they are asymptomatic.
Nursing homes and long term care facilities are particularly vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19 because of the close living quarters and the advanced age and health conditions of the occupants.
In March, the CDC updated its recommendations for preventing the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes to include the following guidelines:
- Assign one or more staff members to provide on-site management of the Infection Prevention Control Program.
- Put FDA-approved alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60-95% alcohol in every resident room.
- Perform and maintain an inventory of personal protective equipment in the facility. Make necessary PPE available in areas where resident care is provided.
- Develop a schedule for regular cleaning and disinfection of shared equipment, frequently touched surfaces in resident rooms and common areas.
- Provide information about strategies for managing stress and anxiety.
- When possible, maintain physical distance between people (at least 6 feet).
- Send letters or emails to families reminding them not to visit when ill or if they have had close contact with someone with SARS-CoV-2 infection in the past 14 days.
- Post signs at the entrances to the facility advising visitors to check-in with the front desk to be assessed for symptoms prior to entry.
You can view a complete list of the recommendations here.