Rates of COVID-19 Among Residents and Staff Members in Nursing Homes (CDC)

Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare

In the January 8, 2021 issue of MMWR (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report), the CDC issued its report on the rates of COVID-19 among residents and staff in NHs from May 25 through November 22, 2020 in the U.S.

Here’s a quick summary of the report (I encourage you to read the full article – 5 pages in length, including an acknowledgement and numerous references):

“The findings in this report are subject to at least four limitations. First, nursing homes reported aggregate weekly data to NHSN, preventing patient-level analysis. Second, reported data were not validated, and trends among nursing homes excluded because of missing data might have differed. Third, the sources of introduction and direction of transmission between residents and staff members could not be determined.

Finally, these results might not be generalizable to residents and staff members of other long-term care facilities, such as those for the developmentally disabled and assisted living facilities because this analysis was restricted to nursing homes reporting COVID-19 data weekly, as required by CMS. (On May 25, 2020, CMS-certified nursing homes began reporting data to NHSN in response to a federal mandate.)

Nursing homes are high-risk, congregate settings that require a comprehensive infection prevention and control strategy to reduce SARS-CoV-2 entry into the facility and mitigate transmission to prevent severe outcomes. CDC’s nursing home guidance provides tiered recommendations for different phases of a COVID-19 response and should be implemented in addition to CMS regulatory requirements.  Prioritization of nursing home residents and staff members for SARS-CoV-2 vaccination, as recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, is an additional strategy to assist mitigation. Guidance and federal requirements could be further improved through assessing factors associated with the incidence of COVID-19 among nursing home staff members and residents, including factors associated with community-acquired infections leading to transmission within nursing homes.”  (Bolding added by me.)