CMS To Require Nursing Homes To Report COVID-19 Cases To CDC Amid Reports Of Bodies Piling Up

“It's important that patients and their families have the information that they need, and they need to understand what's going on in the nursing home,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. Nursing homes have been especially hard hit by the pandemic, with residents and staff members reporting that they feel like they're "under siege."

Politico: Trump Administration Will Require Nursing Homes To Report Covid-19 Cases American nursing homes will now be required to report coronavirus cases directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as to patients and their families, CMS Administrator Seema Verma said Sunday. The directive from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services mark a significant change in practice. The CDC has not formally tracked the number of Covid-19 cases that spread inside homes for vulnerable elderly patients. Thousands have died. (Perez, 4/19)

NPR: Nursing Home COVID-19 Reporting Rules To Be Strengthened The new rules also require nursing homes to report COVID-19 cases directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the CDC works to build a nationwide database of the occurrence of the illness. Nursing homes are already required to report such data to state and local public health officials. "Nursing homes have been ground zero for COVID-19," CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement announcing the new rules, which she described as an effort to provide "transparent and timely information to residents and their families." (Katkov, 4/20)

NBC News: Federal Officials Announce New Coronavirus Rules For Nursing Homes To Boost Transparency The two policy changes come in the wake of reporting by NBC News that families with loved ones in nursing homes complain that they are "in the dark" about COVID-19 cases in long-term care facilities. The homes have also faced criticism from Democratic lawmakers and public health experts who have said the federal government should have been tracking COVID-19 cases from the beginning of the outbreak. (Strickler and Stelloh, 4/19)

The Washington Post: California, Florida Release Names Of Nursing Homes With Coronavirus As Pressure Mounts Health officials in California and Florida this weekend published lists of nursing homes in their states that have had coronavirus cases, joining other states that have released at least partial lists. Although most states rely solely on the long-term-care facilities to notify residents and their families of such cases, officials in California and Florida made the nursing homes’ names public after facing pressure to be more transparent with families and to better understand the virus’s spread. (Kornfield, 4/19)

Boston Globe: Government Actions, Guidance Fail To Keep Pace With Health Crisis In Nursing Homes Earlier this month, Governor Charlie Baker activated a dozen National Guard teams to test for COVID-19 at hard-hit nursing homes across Massachusetts in an effort to help them contain the deadly outbreak. Yet soon after the Guard completed its testing, managers of the homes noticed a disturbing trend: Large numbers of front-line employees stopped coming to work, leaving their beleaguered facilities severely understaffed. (Weisman and Krantz, 4/18)

The New York Times: 70 Died At A Nursing Home As Body Bags Piled Up. This Is What Went Wrong. When the coronavirus outbreak hit one of the largest and most troubled nursing homes in the Northeast, coughing and feverish residents were segregated into a wing known as South 2. The sick quickly filled the beds there, so another wing, West 3, was also turned into a quarantine ward. But the virus kept finding frail and older residents, and one culprit became clear: The workers themselves were likely spreading it as they moved between rooms and floors, outfitted with little or no protective equipment. (Tully, Rosenthal, Goldstein and Gebeloff, 4/19)

The Associated Press: ’Under Siege': Overwhelmed Brooklyn Care Home Tolls 55 Dead  As residents at a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington, began dying in late February from a coronavirus outbreak that would eventually take 43 lives, there was little sign of trouble at the Cobble Hill Health Center, a 360-bed facility in an upscale section of Brooklyn. Its Facebook page posted a cheerful story encouraging relatives to quiz their aging loved ones about their lives, and photos of smiling third graders at a nearby school making flower arrangements for residents. (Condon, Sedensky and Peltz, 4/20)

ABC News: Inside Nursing Homes, Coronavirus Brings Isolation And 7,300 Deaths; Outside, Families Yearn For News Throughout March, sirens blared day and night in Brooklyn, as paramedics responded to the Cobble Hill Health Center. In Virginia's Henrico County, firefighters saw 911 calls spike from nearby Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center. And in rural western New Jersey, an anonymous tip came to police about a body being stored in a shed outside the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center. (Mosk, Romero, Pecorin and Freger, 4/19)

The Associated Press: Nations Seek To Ease Nursing Home Loneliness Yet Keep SafeBelgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes just wanted to do the humane thing. After so many frail and elderly nursing home residents had been held in seclusion from their loved ones in the first weeks of the lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic, Wilmes said her government decided to allow one visitor — in good health — per person. “People can die of loneliness,” Wilmes told parliament on Thursday. “Sustained isolation has consequences.” (Casert and Charlton, 4/20)

NPR: Nursing Homes Concerned About Accepting COVID-19 Patients From Hospitals In some parts of the U.S., the desperate need to slow the spread of the coronavirus is coming into conflict with the scramble to find more hospital beds. Nursing homes have been the sites of some of the earliest — and deadliest — outbreaks of COVID-19. Some people who run such facilities are understandably leery of accepting new patients who might spread the virus. (Jaffe, 4/20)

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Deaths Mounted At Nursing Homes Before State Took Strong Action Kemp on April 1 dispatched the National Guard statewide to inspect and clean long-term care facilities, and so far they have reached more than 370. On April 8, he ordered senior care homes to take aggressive steps to curb the virus, but by then the outbreak had killed at least 81 residents of nursing homes and assisted living communities. On Monday, Kemp said testing would become more widely available, but the virus has crept into so many facilities that state action may be too little, too late for thousands of Georgia seniors. (Teegardin, 4/17)

Las Vegas Review-Journal: Data Show Rapid Spread Of COVID-19 In Nevada Nursing Homes Nevada has recorded 111 more COVID-19 cases and three more deaths from the disease in nursing homes, assisted living centers and other institutions since it unveiled a new tracking tool on Monday. The data published on the Department of Health and Human Services’ website showed on Friday afternoon that 166 residents and 123 staff members have been infected with the new coronavirus in 42 facilities across the state. (Erickson, 4/17)

Kaiser Health News: Before ‘Tidal Wave’ Of Illness, Nursing Home Thought It Had COVID-19 ContainedMore than 20 patients have died. Dozens more are still hospitalized. And residents who had already been sent back to a nursing home in Gallatin, Tennessee, have turned up with new cases of COVID-19. An investigation finds that the facility downplayed the outbreak to first responders on 911 calls in late March. But the nursing home administrator told WPLN News that the coronavirus was unstoppable in Tennessee’s largest outbreak yet. (Farmer, 4/20)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.