On April 2, 2020, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) provided updated guidance for nursing homes, after the agency’s first round of coronavirus-related facility surveys conducted the week of March 30. Even with the raised alarm of COVID-19’s known risk, 36% of U.S. long-term care facilities reviewed had staff who did not follow proper handwashing protocols.
Hand hygiene for infection prevention is an essential part of the U.S. response to the emergence of COVID-19. Nursing home staff should also adhere to Standard and Transmission-based Precautions when caring for patients with a coronavirus-related infection. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Infection (CDC) recommends the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers “with greater than 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol as the preferred form of hand hygiene in healthcare settings, based upon greater access to hand sanitizer.”
The updated guidance also formalized actions related to screening all visitors for symptoms, ensuring buildings are actively complying with existing CMS and CDC protocols and using personal protective equipment (PPE) when interacting with residents whenever possible. The CDC provides the recommended PPE described in this Infection Control Guidance.