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American nursing homes are now required to report COVID-19 cases to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), under guidance from the Trump Administration.
Representatives with CMS, or Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, announced the new measures during Sunday evening’s White House briefing. The requirement aims to increase transparency not only for the CDC but also for patients and their families.
“Nursing homes have been ground zero for COVID-19. Today’s action supports CMS’ longstanding commitment to providing transparent and timely information to residents and their families,” said Seema Verma, CMS Administrator, in a statement. “Nursing home reporting to the CDC is a critical component of the go-forward national COVID-19 surveillance system and to efforts to reopen America.”
Coined “Opening Up America,” the directive will improve existing infectious disease reporting to state and local health departments. Nursing homes must also cooperate with “CDC surveillance efforts around COVID-19 spread,” according to the CMS.
The new reporting initiative may also help in developing further recommendations for the at-risk group, as the CDC has not formally tracked the number of COVID-19 cases that spread inside homes for vulnerable elderly patients, according to a Politico report. Unpreparedness for the novel disease, such as shortages of personal protective equipment (PPEs) and insufficient testing, has struck tragedy in nursing homes where the elderly, especially those with weakened immune systems, are often left vulnerable.
According to an Associated Press tally, there have been 8,003 assumed COVID-19 related deaths in nursing homes across the country, with one-third of them in New York state. Cobble Hill Health Center in Brooklyn looms among the deadliest nursing home COVID-19 related cases, with a reported 55 deaths.