What We’re Reading: Nursing Homes Must Test Staff; FEMA Reimbursement Concerns; Updates to Exposure Testing

August 26, 2020
AJMC Staff

CMS requires all nursing homes to test staff for coronavirus disease 2019; FEMA signals it may end reimbursement for personal protective equipment; CDC issues new exposure testing recommendations.

All Nursing Home Staff To Be Tested for COVID-19

New CMS guidelines require all nursing homes to test staff for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), The Hill reports. Any facility refusing to do so could face financial penalties. The requirement comes 6 months after the virus began infecting individuals in the country’s nursing homes, killing tens of thousands of elderly residents. As tests are more widely available now than they were at the pandemic’s onset, all nursing home staff are required to be tested. Staff are also thought to be the main spreaders of the virus in the facilities. Previous guidelines only recommended testing of nursing home staff.

FEMA Signals It May End Local PPE Funding

City and state officials are concerned the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) may be running out of funds to support local COVID-19 responses, just as more supplies are needed for reopening plans, according to The Washington Post. In particular, officials expressed fears the agency may stop reimbursing some purchases of masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment (PPE). Concerns stemmed from calls made by FEMA in which the agency signaled it may soon rethink how it distributes relief funds. Agency officials have already told cities and states they may have to turn to other federal programs to cover costs, the director of Vermont’s emergency management agency said.

CDC: Not All Individuals Exposed to COVID-19 Should Be Tested

In revised guidance for COVID-19 testing released this week, the CDC said not all close contacts need to be tested after being exposed to an individual with COVID-19, The Washington Post reports. The updated guidance now reads that those exposed to an individual (within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes) who tested positive do not necessarily need a test if they are not experiencing symptoms. Exceptions include vulnerable individuals with underlying health conditions, or if state or local health officials “recommend you take one.” Several experts expressed concern about the revision, as asymptomatic individuals are still responsible for a large proportion of transmissions.