As the number of reported COVID-19 infections in the U.S. has increased significantly to 1701 cases as of this writing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released important documentation on community-level mitigation strategies for COVID-19. This includes CDC’s latest guidance to healthcare providers and assisted and independent living facilities on methods to mitigate the spread of infection, depending on community severity level. Regardless of the size or type of healthcare organization, these guidelines should be reviewed by leadership, communicated to employees and stakeholders, and implemented as the absolute minimum level of mitigation strategy. Note that guidance scales with the level of risk identified in the community and additional precautions, depending on risk and community spread. Additionally, CDC has provided and specific documentation for the following locations:
Even if located within communities without significant reported infection or community spread, healthcare providers should begin to prepare written infection mitigation strategies immediately and begin dialogue with all stakeholders. CDC’s strategies represent a start to the process, but each provider and each community is unique.
Healthcare settings and healthcare providers (outpatient, nursing homes/long-term care facilities, inpatient, telehealth)
Regardless of level of spread, CDC recommends the following precautions for other healthcare settings, such as outpatient, skilled nursing facilities:
- Phone triage and telemedicine are encouraged, where practicable.
- Review facility infection control protocols and supply personal protective equipment (PPE) to care providers.
- Assess visitor policies (note, some local governments have placed restrictions on visitors to SNF/ALF facilities).
- Implement triage before access to facilities (phone triage prior to arrival, triage at access points) and isolate suspected cases of infection.
- Develop systems and regular checks for monitoring infection or exposure in healthcare providers. Precautionary quarantine may be required.
Assisted living facilities, senior living facilities and adult day programs
Regardless of level of spread, CDC recommends the following precautions for ALF/ILF-type facilitates:
- Identify means of securing up-to-date information on COVID-19 infection (contact information for local health department and CDC, at minimum).
- Knowledge of symptoms of COVID-19 infection.
- Review and update emergency operations plan.
- Encourage personal protective measures among staff.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces daily (or more).
- Ensure hand hygiene supplies are available in all buildings.
CDC advises, “Due to the current level of COVID-19 transmission in the United States, and Florida’s large older adult population, CDC recommends certain community mitigation activities to help slow the spread of COVID-19 into the community and to protect vulnerable members of the community.” CDC recommends the following interventions be implemented at this time:
Florida: Healthcare Settings and Healthcare Providers (Including Outpatient, Nursing Homes/Long-Term Care Facilities, Inpatient, Telehealth)
- Implement telehealth for rural communities.
- Consider reducing elective procedures.
- Implement triage before entering facilities (e.g. parking lot triage, front door); phone triage and telemedicine; limit unnecessary healthcare visits.
- Encourage HCP to stay home and notify healthcare facility administrators when sick.
- Actively monitor HCP absenteeism and respiratory illness among HCP and patients.
- Consider implementing temperature/symptom checks for staff, visitors, limit visitor movement in the facility.
- Actively monitor PPE supplies.
- Establish processes to evaluate and test large numbers of patients and HCP with respiratory symptoms (e.g. designated clinics for people with fever, surge tent for overflow triage, offsite testing locations).
- Cross train HCP for working in other units to support staffing shortages.
Florida: For Every Assisted Living , Senior Living Facility, and Adult Day Program
- Conduct daily temperature and symptom screening of attendees, staff, and visitors.
- Support training of staff about strong infection control practices.
- Restrict visitors to long-term care facilities.
- Monitor local information about COVID-19 in your community.
- Know the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and what to do if clients/residents or staff become symptomatic.
- Review and update emergency operations plan (including implementation of social distancing measures) or develop a plan if one is not available.
- Encourage personal protective measures among staff, residents and clients who live elsewhere (e.g., stay home or in residences when sick, handwashing, respiratory etiquette).
- Clean frequently touched surfaces daily.
- Ensure hand hygiene supplies are readily available in all buildings.
What to do if You Are Sick – Printable Flyer [English]
CDC Information for Healthcare Professionals (multiple resources) [English]
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