While CMS had also previously announced that its infection-control efforts would be concentrated in areas with significant numbers of COVID-19 cases — including California, New York, and the Seattle metropolitan area — Verma on Monday said its new strategies will take things a step further.
Using the CDC’s database of reported COVID-19 cases and modeling tools, CMS will attempt to deploy its surveyors to potential COVID-19 hotspots before massive building-level outbreaks can occur.
“Beginning today, we will be working with the CDC to focus and identify areas the virus is projected to strike next, and target our inspections accordingly,” Verma said. “This will allow us to focus inspections on the most urgent situations — so we’re getting the information that we need to ensure safety while not getting in the way of patient care.”
As of Monday, the CDC has identified 146 nursing homes across 27 states with confirmed COVID-19 cases. Because the virus is particularly deadly for frail nursing home residents, many of whom have a host of underlying medical conditions, Verma reiterated the importance of obeying a federal ban on all non-essential visits to skilled nursing facilities.
“Unless you must absolutely go into a nursing home, don’t,” she said.