Nursing homes and senior care facilities will soon be required to notify patients, their families and health officials if someone in the facility tests positive for the novel coronavirus, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator Seema Verma said during a press briefing at the White House on Sunday.
According to the directive, CMS will soon provide nursing homes with information in how to report such information to the CDC. Prior to the directive, direct reporting to the CDC was optional.
In addition, CMS says it will pass further rules requiring nursing homes to notify all of its patients and employees within 12 hours of when an infectious disease is reported in the building. Facilities will also be required to provide weekly updates on the situation, or whenever three or more cases of infection are reported within three days of each other.
The CMS directive says failure to report such cases could result in "enforcement action" against the facility.
Senior centers and nursing homes are especially at risk during the coronavirus pandemic. The CDC reports that more than 1,500 people in nursing homes or long term care facilities have died of the coronavirus since the pandemic began.