What have we learned about Covid-19 transmission in nursing homes that could be helpful in tailoring our approach to infection control across settings?

Infection and Spread

A: Broad testing and protective equipment are essential in containing Covid-19 spread and saving lives.

Residents of nursing homes and the many professionals who provide care to older adults in nursing homes have been extremely hard hit by Covid-19. Once Covid-19 enters a nursing home, the shared living space can make it very difficult to contain the virus. To make matters worse, the mortality rate among older adults is much higher than the general population. A recent article in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society provides a useful case study in understanding the vital importance of broad testing strategies.

By the time individuals show symptoms of Covid-19 they are likely to have spread infection, as demonstrated by this case within a nursing home in spite of symptom monitoring and visitor restrictions. By identifying individuals with infection early through universal testing, efforts to quarantine and isolate residents and staff briskly are strengthened.

A commitment to universal testing, isolation of cases (both staff and residents), and adequate personal protective equipment saves lives and allows for some return of normal activity. It requires operational planning support and financial investment to be successful. These strategies are essential within nursing homes to prevent the loss of life. Within other group settings, routine testing could provide surveillance of invisible threats before widespread symptoms present. Additionally, we should all keep rocking those masks.

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