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How COVID-19 has impacted American nursing homes

  • Michigan orders nursing homes to build COVID-19 units

    April 15 - Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to create separate units for residents with coronavirus or send them to a local facility that has a unit. Any facility that is less than 80% full is required to set up such a unit to help stem the spread.

  • US government requires reporting of nursing home COVID-19 cases

    April 19 - The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced a requirement that nursing homes report any COVID-19 cases and deaths to local and state health departments and to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The regulatory requirements also call for nursing homes to inform residents and family members of COVID-19 cases in the facilities.

  • Report finds 27% of all COVID-19 deaths are in long-term care facilities

    April 23 - The Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit organization that focuses on national health issues, released a report showing that, based on data from 23 reporting states, 27% of the nation’s COVID-19-related deaths occurred in long-term care facilities among residents and staff. In six states reporting data—Delaware, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Utah—deaths in long-term care facilities accounted for more than half of the fatalities.

  • Maryland mandates statewide nursing home testing

    April 29 - Maryland said it would require the testing of all nursing home residents and staff for coronavirus. Officials said it was believed to be the country’s first such state mandate. More than half of the state’s coronavirus-related deaths are connected to skilled-nursing facilities, data shows.

  • New York state backtracks on nursing home order

    May 10: The New York Department of Health rescinded its March 25 order that required nursing homes to accept aged COVID-19 patients discharged from hospitals. The reversal came after the original order was criticized for contributing to, not alleviating, death tolls. Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered twice-weekly testing of nursing home and adult care facility staff.

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  • U.S. agency advises on easing visitation restrictions

    May 18 - The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued recommendations on how nursing homes can relax restrictions on visitation. It says the guidance aims to address rigorous infection prevention and control as well as residents’ social engagement and quality of life.

  • $4.9 billion distributed to skilled nursing facilities

    May 22 - The federal Department of Health and Human Services announced the distribution of nearly $4.9 billion in COVID-19 relief funds directed at skilled nursing facilities, the first such specified payment since the pandemic began. It said every skilled nursing facility nationwide would get a minimum of $50,000 and an additional $2,500 per bed. That same day, The Journal of the American Medical Association released a report finding nursing home residents comprise about a quarter of documented COVID-19-related deaths despite accounting for fewer than 0.5% of the U.S. population.

  • Rapid testing reaches nursing homes in COVID-19 hot spots

    July 14 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced distribution of rapid diagnostic tests to nursing homes in COVID-19 hot spots for on-site testing of staff and residents. The nasal swab-type tests are the type that can provide results within minutes.

  • Two-thirds of people 70 and older are at higher risk for severe COVID-19 symptoms

    Aug. 1- A study published in The Lancet medical journal says two-thirds of people age 70 or older have at least one underlying condition putting them at increased risk of severe COVID-19 if they get infected. That rate compares with about 5% for people under age 20 and about 22% of the global population overall, it said.

  • NASEM makes recommendations for ‘tier one’ population at high risk for COVID-19

    Oct. 2 - The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) issued a recommendation that nursing home workers and residents be among the “tier one” population that is considered at high risk for the virus, part of its study on who should have access to a vaccine and in what order. The organization does not set policy, but is highly influential among federal decision makers.

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