Federal authorities are urging governors to use “extreme caution” in deciding when to resume visits at nursing homes, saying it shouldn’t come before all residents and staff have tested negative for the coronavirus for at least 28 days.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ criteria for relaxing restrictions at nursing homes come more than two months after the agency ordered homes to ban visitors. Instead of firm dates, it lists a variety of factors state and local officials should consider, such as adequate staffing levels at homes and the ability to regularly test all residents and workers.
“We’re urging governors to proceed with extreme caution because these are the most vulnerable citizens. We know that nursing homes have struggled,” Seema Verma, head of CMS, told The Associated Press.
Already, outbreaks in nursing homes and long-term care facilities have claimed more than 33,000 lives, more than a third of all coronavirus deaths in the U.S., according to a count by the AP.
The recommendations bolster the Trump administration’s broader guidelines that say senior care facilities should be among the last in a community to reopen, given the vulnerability of their elderly residents. And they noted that some homes may have to wait even longer than 28 days from the last negative test if they have had problems with infection controls, staffing or other issues.