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With the nation’s goodwill directed at hospitals during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, nursing homes became caught in a critical catch-22. Their initial pleas for personal protective equipment (PPE), diagnostic tests, and staffing support went largely ignored. Months into the crisis, as some facilities still scrounged for supplies and staff, the federal government announced phased guidance for reopening nursing homes that hinges on the very resources they don’t have.
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The May 18 recommendations from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) aim to direct state and local officials in relaxing restrictions for the nation’s more than 15 000 nursing homes, whose 1.3 million residents are locked down without visitors, communal meals, or group activities. They call for having adequate PPE on hand and regularly testing staff and residents for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) before ending lockdowns.
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