As we anxiously await guidance from CDC and CMS on changes, they will recommend and/or require of long-term care communities related to testing, visitation, quarantine, etc. – a reminder that homes should use previous visitation guidance to support opening up their communities to visitors. This week, the CMS spreadsheet of county positivity rates shows MO with 63 green, 49 yellow and 3 red counties. Homes in green and yellow counties should allow visitation according to the core principles of COVID-19 infection prevention and facility policies, if they are not in outbreak status. As soon we receive updated guidance, we will communicate the information via the long-term care facility listserv. Keep in mind DHSS has issued guidelines- not regulatory requirements related to visitation. You know your long-term care community and can best assess and make a plan to help residents reconnect with loved ones based on their wants/needs, availability of PPE, staffing, etc.
Additional guidance related to frequent questions we receive:
COVID recovered in past 3 months
If a resident has tested positive and has recovered (no longer on transmission based precautions) in the past 90 days, CDC guidance states they do not need to quarantine or get tested again for up to 3 months as long as they do not develop symptoms again. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/quarantine.html Homes can use this guidance in developing policies related to visitation and quarantine for residents as well to help expand visitation within their communities and to allow residents to resume some normalcy in their routines.
For residents that have had COVID in the past 3 months and are off of transmission based precautions, they would not need to quarantine if they left for a home visit or went out for dinner- based on CDC guidance for quarantine. We encourage facilities, families and residents to continue to use the infection control practices outlined in the attached memo. Even though someone has had COVID- we do not know a lot about reinfections and those measures (mask, social distancing, and good hand hygiene) help protect from influenza as well.
Home Visits and Outings
If a resident chooses to leave the facility to visit family or for an outing, we recommend nursing homes use the recommendations from the holiday leave guidance when they return to the nursing home:
- Screen and increase monitoring for signs and symptoms.
- Test a resident for COVID-19 if signs or symptoms are present or if a resident or their family reports possible exposure to COVID-19 while outside the nursing home. A nursing home may also opt to test residents without signs or symptoms if they leave the nursing home frequently or for a prolonged length of time, such as over 24 hours. For more information on testing guidelines, see CMS memorandum QSO-20-38-NH.
- Place the resident on transmission-based precautions (TBP) if the resident or family member reports possible exposure to COVID-19 while outside of the nursing home, or if the resident has signs or symptoms of COVID-19 upon return. Please note that residents and loved ones should report to the nursing home staff if they have had any exposure to COVID-19 while outside of the nursing home.
- Consider placing residents on Transmission Based Precautions BP if they were away from the nursing homes for more than 24 hours.
Vaccination and Infection Control measures
At this time, there are still many questions unanswered regarding vaccination that make infection control changes uncertain right now. Current CDC can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/toolkits/long-term-care/index.html.
Vaccination is one important tool (not the only) in our tool belt to address COVID-19 infections. Vaccinating healthcare personnel and residents is essential to helping prevent individuals (who may not be able to recover) from getting COVID-19. For long-term care facilities, vaccinations are vital to protecting healthcare capacity. Staff who are sick cannot work and provide the necessary case and services to residents to ensure their health and safety.
The toolkit includes some helpful information for staff and residents/loved ones regarding the vaccine as well.