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Skilled Nursing Facilities

B73 COVID-19 - Procedural Guidance for DPH Staff



REPORTING PROCEDURES

Outbreak Definitions:

Under Title 17, Section 2500, California Code of Regulations all suspected outbreaks are reportable.

Definition of Outbreak:

  1. At least one laboratory confirmed case (symptomatic or asymptomatic) of COVID-19 in a SNF resident who has resided in the facility for at least 14 days
    1. If newly admitted residents who are admitted to the YELLOW quarantine cohort are laboratory confirmed positive for COVID-19, this is not considered an outbreak as patients could have been exposed outside the SNF, but response testing should still be initiated.
    2.  Facilities should test PUI/Suspect cases (cases with symptoms of possible COVID-19) immediately.

AND/OR

  1. At least three laboratory confirmed cases (symptomatic or asymptomatic) of COVID-19 in healthcare personnel (HCP) in 10 days or less.
    1. HCP includes any staff regularly entering the facility, whether clinical or non-clinical, paid or non-paid, directly employed or by contract including essential visitors who are regularly entering the facility once weekly or more (e.g., caregivers).
    2. Laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19 in HCP may be from the same testing day or across multiple testing days within a 10-day period.
    3. HCP who has not recently worked in the facility and tested positive should count towards this outbreak definition and be linked to the outbreak under the following circumstances:
      • For symptomatic HCP, if they have been on facility premises starting 2 days prior to symptom onset or specimen collection date, whichever is earlier, through the last day of the isolation period.
      • For asymptomatic HCP, if they have been on facility premises starting 2 days prior to specimen collection date through the last day of the isolation period.

EPIDEMIOLOGIC DATA FOR OUTBREAKS

  1. Establish a case definition (i.e., fever [measured or reported] and either cough, sore throat, or stuffy nose): include pertinent clinical symptoms and laboratory data.
  2. Confirm etiology of outbreak using laboratory data.
  3. Create a line list and contact information following the COVID-19 line list template above.
  4. Maintain surveillance for new cases until no new cases for at least 2 weeks.
  5. Create an epi-curve, by week of symptom onset or positive test result (see CDC Quick Learn Lesson: Create an Epi Curve for guidance). Only put those that meet the case definition on the epi-curve. Recommend listing case totals by increments of 7 days (1 week).

CONTROL OF CASE, CONTACTS & CARRIERS

Case

Single confirmed COVID-19 RESIDENT case in a SNF

  1. Immediately transfer COVID positive resident to the RED (COVID positive) cohort.
  2. Identify any close contacts or exposures to the COVID positive resident and place them in the YELLOW (mixed quarantine) cohort for 14 days, regardless of vaccination status. Residents who are considered exposed due to being in the same unit/wing as a case do not need to be moved. Please see “Cohorting” section for further details.
  3. If the resident testing positive was in the YELLOW (mixed quarantine) cohort because of recent admission within the past 14 days, this should not be opened as an outbreak and outbreak measures may not be necessary for the SNF.
    • However, the facility should still immediately start response testing for all residents and all staff regardless of vaccination status for at least 2 weeks until no further cases are identified without officially opening an outbreak. This is because positive residents recently admitted/re-admitted may have acquired the infection at the facility or prior to the facility.
    • Note: this does not apply to dialysis residents who are not new admissions and who test positive as the infection could have been acquired at either the SNF or the dialysis center, and warrants opening an outbreak.
    If a resident from the GREEN (Non-COVID-19) cohort tests positive, this suggests transmission within the SNF and warrants opening an outbreak in the facility and the facility should initiate an outbreak response.

Confirmed COVID-19 HCP case in a SNF

  1. If a HCP is identified as positive either as result of being symptomatic or due to routine testing of asymptomatic staff, the HCP should be excluded from work if symptomatic, but may continue to work only with COVID positive residents if there is a staffing shortage in the facility. While CDC does allow asymptomatic COVID positive staff to work with COVID positive residents isolating in the RED Cohort under certain circumstances, this should be done only after approval from the Area Medical Director (AMD) and in communication with HFID and ACDC.
  2. Positive COVID test results in a HCP should trigger response testing as described above, but does not meet the outbreak definition
  3. New admissions and re-admissions to SNFs should follow the inter-facility transfer rules including during outbreaks.

NOTE: Any HCP who has not recently worked at the facility and tested positive should be linked to the outbreak under the following circumstances:

  • For symptomatic staff, if they have been on facility premises starting 2 days prior to symptom onset or specimen collection date, whichever is earlier, through the last day of the isolation period
  • For asymptomatic staff, if they have been on facility premises starting 2 days prior to specimen collection date through the last day of  the isolation period

CONTACTS

Contacts are defined as below:

  1. All residents on the same unit or wing where a case was identified in a resident or HCP
  2. Any person who has been within 6 feet of a person with lab-confirmed COVID-19 for a cumulative total of ≥15 minutes within a 24 hour period without consistent use of all appropriate PPE
  3. Any person who had unprotected direct contact with infectious secretions or excretions of the person with COVID-19 (e.g., being coughed or sneezed on, sharing utensils or saliva, or providing care without wearing appropriate protective equipment)

Healthcare Personnel (HCP):

Facility to identify all close contact HCP (includes clinical and ancillary staff), and determine risk status using the guide outlined in LAC DPH Guidance for Monitoring Healthcare Personnel and a companion guidance, CDC Criteria for Return to Work for Healthcare Personnel with Confirmed or Suspected COVID-19 (Interim Guidance).

Document the contacts on the COVID-19 Line List template (see Report Forms section) and submit it to DPH as requested by DPH

Visitors:

For the most up to date guidance on visitation in SNFs, please see Communal Dining, Group Activities, and Visitation section. Facility to identify and instruct any visitors that may have been a close contact to a confirmed case and who were partially vaccinated and unvaccinated at the time of the visit to self-quarantine and self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days after last exposure.

GUIDELINES FOR PREVENTING AND MANAGING COVID-19 IN SKILLED NURSING FACILITIES

These guidelines outline actions that Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) should take to help prevent and manage COVID-19, based on the current status of and trends in community transmission in LA County.

COVID-19 Vaccination Guidance:

Definition of Fully Vaccinated:

A person is considered fully vaccinated ≥2 weeks following the receipt* of either:

  • the second dose in a 2-dose COVID-19 vaccine series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) OR
  • one dose of a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine (Johnson and Johnson/Janssen)

* This guidance can also be applied to COVID-19 vaccines that have been listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization (e.g. AstraZeneca/Oxford and Sinopharm). COVID-19 vaccines that receive WHO’s Emergency Use Listing (EUL) have met international standards for safety, efficacy and manufacturing and are deemed suitable for use during a public health emergency.
NOTE: Staff and visitors can only be considered fully vaccinated if they show acceptable proof of vaccination that confirms the above definition.

Proof of vaccination for staff and general visitors only include the following as per AFL 21-28 and AFL 20-22.9.

  1. COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card (issued by the Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control & Prevention or WHO Yellow Card which includes name of person vaccinated, type of vaccine provided, and date last dose administered); OR
  2. A photo of a Vaccination Record Card as a separate document; OR
  3. A photo of the client's Vaccination Record Card stored on a phone or electronic device; OR
  4. Documentation of COVID-19 vaccination from a healthcare provider; OR
  5. Digital record that includes a QR code that when scanned by a SMART Health Card reader displays to the reader client name, date of birth, vaccine dates and vaccine type.
  6. Additional option for staff only: documentation of vaccination from other contracted employers who follow these vaccination guidelines and standards.

Track, Increase, and Maintain COVID-19 Vaccination Coverage

  1. All facilities must track vaccination coverage for all staff and residents including verifying vaccination status of new staff hires and new admissions. If a person’s vaccination status is not verified, they are considered unvaccinated.
    1. It is recommended that facilities maintain the following information at minimum in secure/encrypted electronic documents (such as a password protected spreadsheet) for all current residents in a single file and all current staff in a single file:
      1) vaccination status (e.g., fully, partially, un-vaccinated, or not yet assessed)
      2) the dates of vaccination doses OR date the person declined.
      This will a) help facilities anticipate when individuals are due for a booster, if and when approved by the FDA and CDC, or an additional dose as recommended by the CDC, b) help facilities’ ability to efficiently implement guidance in this document that depends on vaccination status, and c) allow for easier reporting on vaccination surveys from Public Health and CDPH.
  2. All facilities should increase and maintain vaccination coverage for both staff and residents including re-offering the vaccine, providing education, and hosting listening sessions including to persons who have previously declined. Please see Best Practices for Improving Vaccination in SNFs for more detailed strategies including building vaccine confidence. Also, as per CMS QSO 21-19-NH Interim Final Rule – COVID-19 Vaccination Immunization Requirements for Residents and Staff, facilities must document when COVID-19 vaccine education took place and provide samples of educational materials used for both staff and residents.

Residents:

  1. Immediately assess all residents on admission for their COVID-19 vaccination status.
  2. Facilities are recommended to utilize the California Immunization Registry (CAIR2) to help look up verification of vaccination status for residents. Other proof is also acceptable including those listed in the CDPH Vaccine Records Guidelines & Standards.
  3. For residents coming from a hospital, including stays in the emergency department or observation, please ask the hospital to offer COVID-19 vaccine to the resident prior to transfer as per CDPH AFL 21-20.
  4. If a resident is not fully vaccinated or they are eligible for an additional dose for those with immunocompromising conditions or treatments, immediately contact the facility’s long-term care (LTC) pharmacy to schedule an appointment or delivery of vaccine to get the resident vaccinated.
    1. If the resident is unvaccinated, the first dose should be administered within a week of admission.
    2. Second or additional doses should be administered per the CDC recommended schedule.
    3. If the LTC pharmacy is not able to vaccinate new resident(s) in a timely manner, please notify Public Health at COVID-LTC-Test@ph.lacounty.gov for additional resources.

Staff:

  1. Per CDPH Public Health Officer Order of Aug 5, 2021, on “Health Care Worker Vaccine Requirement” and LAC DPH Health Officer Order issued Aug 12, 2021, regarding “Health Care Worker Vaccination Requirement,” all workers in skilled nursing facilities (including subacute facilities) are required to have their first dose of a one-dose regimen or their second dose of a two-dose regimen by September 30, 2021. Please read the full orders for description of who is included in “workers”.
  2. Staff who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 due to qualified medical reasons or religious exemptions must undergo routine screening testing and have additional PPE recommendations. Please see relevant sections below. There are no exemptions from testing requirements for those with religious exemptions or medical contraindications to vaccination.

COVID-19 Prevention - General and Administrative Practices

  1. Conduct entry screening.
    1. All persons, regardless of vaccination status, should be screened for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 infection, including a temperature check. Additionally, all persons who are partially vaccinated or unvaccinated should be screened for any recent travel outside of California in the past 14 days. Persons requiring symptom and travel screening include facility staff, essential visitors, and general visitors. Symptoms include but are not limited to the following: fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, new loss of taste or smell, muscle or body aches, headache, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, or not feeling well.
      1. Anyone with fever or signs or symptoms of COVID-19 infection is prohibited from entry.
      2. Anyone who is not fully vaccinated reporting recent travel outside of California in the past 14 days may be prohibited from entry. (Per the CDC they should avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether they get tested for COVID-19 or not).
    2. All visitors (general and essential) must be screened prior to entry for any history of close contact to a COVID-19 case within the past 14 days. See SNF Visitation Guidance for definitions of essential visitors and general visitors.
      1. Anyone reporting recent close contact exposure is prohibited from entry, regardless of vaccination status.
    3. All general visitors entering the facility for indoor visitation must be screened for vaccination status (please see Communal Dining, Group Activities, Visitation for more details).
    4. An exception to entry screening: Emergency Medical Service (EMS) workers responding to an urgent medical need. They do not have to be screened, as they are typically screened separately and are required to be vaccinated per LAC DPH Health Officer Order.
  2. Conduct symptom and temperature screening for all staff and residents.
    1. All staff should be checked for symptoms and fever at least once per shift, including at the beginning of shifts (see Healthcare Personnel Monitoring section below.)
    2. All asymptomatic residents should be assessed for symptoms and have their temperature checked at least every 24 hours, with closer monitoring recommended for symptomatic residents under investigation and residents with confirmed COVID-19.
    3. Records should be kept of these staff and resident symptom and temperature checks.
  3. Support good workforce health.
    1. Facilities should have non-punitive sick leave policies to support staff to stay home when sick, if under isolation or quarantine orders, or when caring for sick household members. Make sure staff are aware of the non-punitive sick leave policy.
    2. Make sure that your employees are aware that they may be eligible for benefits such as paid sick leave or workers’ compensation if they become sick with COVID-19, are caring for someone with COVID-19, or if they need to quarantine due to exposure. Workers may also be eligible for paid leave to go to COVID-19 vaccination appointments or to recover from symptoms after getting their vaccination.
  4. Reinforce physical distancing, hand hygiene, and universal source control as per the “Infection Prevention and Control Guidance” with exceptions as described in “Communal Dining, Group Activities, and Visitation”.
  5. Enhanced environmental disinfection with EPA-approved healthcare disinfectants should be performed on high touch surfaces as described in “Infection Prevention and Control Guidance.”
  6. Facilities must demonstrate they have at least a 2-week supply of PPE and other infection prevention and control supplies as well as a plan to optimize PPE supply. Please see “Infection Prevention and Control Guidance” for more details.
Communal Dining, Group Activities, and Visitation

The purpose of these visitation guidelines is to help each facility develop a resident-centered visitation policy that balances the need to protect staff and residents from COVID-19 transmission with the need to provide timely care that optimizes residents’ physical and psychological health in alignment with state and federal requirements.

The following recommendations for communal dining, group activities, and visitation are based upon the most recent CDPH All Facility Letter (AFL) CMS Quality Safety & Oversight memo (QSO):

Criteria for Communal Dining, Group Activities, and General Visitation
For facilities to allow any gathering, facilities must meet these baseline CMS criteria:

  • Adequate staffing: The facility must not be experiencing staff shortages; AND
  • Supply of 14 days of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and disinfection supplies on hand: The facility must have adequate supplies of PPE for staff, such that all staff wear all appropriate PPE when indicated, and must have adequate essential cleaning and disinfection supplies; AND
  • Access to adequate testing: The facility must maintain access to COVID-19 testing for all residents and staff by an established commercial laboratory; AND
  • Approved COVID-19 Mitigation Plan: The facility must maintain regulatory compliance with CDPH guidance.

1Per CMS Guidance, contingency PPE capacity strategy is allowable, such as CDC’s guidance Optimizing Supply of PPE and Other Equipment during Shortages. However, facilities’ crisis capacity PPE strategy does not constitute adequate access to PPE.

Communal Dining and Group Activities

Communal dining and group activities are permitted only for residents in the Green Cohort and certain Yellow Cohort residents* provided the facility meets the baseline criteria. Group activities are permitted outdoors and may be permitted indoors depending on the resident’s vaccination status, the resident’s COVID-19 status, and the facility’s outbreak status.

* If there is no outbreak in the facility, the following residents of the Yellow Cohort may follow the Green Cohort permissions for communal dining and group activities (as long as they are asymptomatic and are not close contacts/considered exposed to a case):

  • Residents who are not fully vaccinated who have frequent appointments outside the facility (e.g., dialysis)
  • Residents who are severely immunocompromised as per Cohorting

See Table 1 Communal dining & group activities

Facility should adhere to the following measures for all communal dining and group activities:

  1. Infection prevention and control
    1. Universal source control and physical distancing
      • All staff, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a medical-grade surgical/procedure mask or N95 respirator while in the facility, including when caring for or assisting with residents during group activities and communal dining.
      • When all residents and staff participating in a group activity or communal dining are fully vaccinated, then fully vaccinated residents may participate without physical distancing or universal source control only when outdoors; however if the activity is taking place indoors, then fully vaccinated residents should wear face masks when not actively eating or drinking.
      • If any unvaccinated residents or staff are participating in the same room/area during a group activity or communal dining, either outdoors or indoors, then all residents, including those who are fully vaccinated, should wear a face mask when not actively eating or drinking and maintain at least 6 feet physical distancing at all times.
    2. Activities should be done in shifts to allow better physical distancing.
      • These shifts of residents should be kept together (i.e., same group of residents dine together consistently) and individual residents should be assigned to specific areas as much as possible to attempt to minimize exposure should a resident later test positive for COVID-19.
      • Use a sign-in sheet/roster of residents present during these activities to help with contact tracing should a resident later test positive for COVID-19.
    3. Enhanced environmental disinfection.
  2. Location of communal dining and group activities
    1. The facility should prioritize outdoor settings for communal dining and group activities, if practical.
    2. Fully vaccinated residents can participate in indoor communal dining and group activities when there is no outbreak at the facility.
    3. Residents who are not fully vaccinated can participate in indoor communal dining and group activities when there is no outbreak at the facility.
  3. Refer to CDPH AFL 20-86(COVID-19 Infection Control Recommendations during Holiday Celebrations) for further guidance on group activities and communal dining during the holidays.

If there is a COVID-19 outbreak in the facility, then the following applies:

  1. Outdoor communal dining and group activities can continue.
  2. Fully vaccinated residents can continue to participate in indoor communal dining and group activities. If an indoor location is used, avoid poorly ventilated and/or fully enclosed spaces. Increase ventilation by opening windows and doors to the extent that is safe and feasible based on the weather.
  3. Residents who are not fully vaccinated must cease participation in indoor communal activities for at least 14 days after the last known case of COVID is confirmed.
  4. All residents still participating in communal dining or group activities, regardless of vaccination status, should wear face masks and maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet even if all residents and staff present are fully vaccinated, both indoors and outdoors.
  5. The facility should review their infection control and prevention practices to prevent future new infections.
  6. After there have been no new resident cases in the facility for 14 days, resident indoor communal dining and activities that had ceased may resume.
SNF Table 1

Visitation

General visitation should be supported by the facility provided the facility meets the baseline criteria above.

Resident Rights: Facilities may not restrict visitation without a reasonable clinical or safety cause, consistent with resident rights in the federal regulation Title 42 CFR section 483.10(f)(4)(v), as stated in CDPH AFL 20-22.8 and CMS QSO 20-39-NH-Revised. Furthermore, residents or their designated representative when the resident does not have capacity, should be involved, and have their preferences prioritized in the determination of essential visitors (e.g. caregivers/essential support persons, compassionate care visitors). Failure to facilitate residents’ visitation rights, without adequate reason related to clinical necessity or resident safety, would constitute a potential violation of this federal regulation, and the facility would be subject to citation and enforcement actions.

  1. Healthcare personnel (HCP)are facility staff directly employed by the facility and are exceptions to visitation restrictions.
  2. Essential visitors are exceptions to visitation restrictions and should be permitted visitation regardless of facility’s outbreak status or COVID-19 status of the resident receiving the visitation. Please refer to CDPH AFL 20-22.9 for the most recent list of essential visitors. In addition to end-of-life situations, please note the following compassionate care visits are considered essential:
    • Residents experiencing weight loss, dehydration, failure to thrive, psychological distress, functional decline, or struggling with a change in environment. The determination of who may benefit from in-person visitation and who is the appropriate visitor should be made by an interdisciplinary team that includes the resident, family, caregivers, or resident representative including an ombudsman.
  3. General visitors: General visitors are defined as visitors who do not fall under the definition of HCP or Essential Visitors. (Note: General visitors were previously known as “non-essential visitors.”)
    1. General visitation is permitted outdoors for residents in both the Green and Yellow Cohorts regardless of a facility’s outbreak status and resident’s vaccination status.
    2.  All general visitors must demonstrate proof for one of the following prior to entering the facility for indoor visits regardless of the resident’s vaccination status or the facility’s outbreak status:
      1. Fully vaccinated status; OR
      2. Negative viral test taken within ≤72 hours of each visit; OR
      3. Recovered from COVID-19 ≤90 days.
    3. If a visitor is unable to provide the above proof, the facility should be prepared to offer outdoor visitation that will not require entering the facility.
    4. Indoor and in-room general visitation in the facility is subject to the resident’s COVID-19 status, the facility’s outbreak status, and the visitor's vaccination or SARS-CoV-2 testing results.
      1. Residents in the Green Cohort must have the option to receive general visitors indoors and in-room. Visitors should be permitted if they show proof prior to entering the facility as listed above.
      2. If there is no outbreak in the facility, residents in the Yellow Cohort must have the option to receive general visitors indoors and in-room when visitors show appropriate proof prior to entering the facility as listed above. Additionally,
        • Visitors must don and doff full PPE according to staff instruction including N95 respirators with seal check.
        • Residents and general visitors must always follow ≥6 feet physical distancing regardless of vaccination status of either resident or visitor.
        • Indoor visitation should preferably be conducted in-room or if it must be conducted in an indoor common area, then it should be alone between the resident and their visitor(s) without any other residents present or visitation taking place.
    5. Fully vaccinated residents in the Green Cohort** and their fully vaccinated visitors do not have to physically distance and can include physical contact (e.g., hugs, holding hands) but must wear a face mask while in the resident’s room with at least 6 feet physical distancing from other resident-visitor groups, other residents, and staff when the visit is conducted indoors.

      If the visit is conducted outdoors between a fully vaccinated resident of the Green Cohort and their fully vaccinated visitor, then they do not have to wear a face mask nor physically distance and can include physical contact.


      ** This also includes fully vaccinated residents with severely immunocompromising conditions in the Yellow Cohort as long as they are asymptomatic and not close contact/considered exposed to a case.
    6. General visits should be scheduled in advance, when possible.
      See Table 2 General visitation
  4. Place of Visitation
    1. Outdoor visitation is preferred for all visitation whenever practical due to lower risk of transmission from increased space and airflow.
    2. Large indoor spaces that allow for ≥ 6 ft physical distancing with good ventilation should be offered as an alternative when outdoor visitation is not practical (e.g. inclement weather, poor air quality, inability to move resident outside).
    3. Per CMS, for in-room visitation where there is a roommate and the health status of the resident prevents leaving the room, facilities should attempt to conduct in-room visitation with the roommate(s) not present in the room when possible. In addition, any in-room visitation must adhere to core principles of infection prevention and control.
  5. Visitor Requirements:
    1. All visitors, essential and general, must adhere to the measures laid out in CDPH AFL 20-22.9 including the core principles of COVID-19 infection prevention or the facility may remove them from facility premises and restrict their entry.
    2. For general visitation that is conducted indoors and in-room, visitors must show acceptable proof prior to entering the facility. Please see #3 (General visitors), part b for more details.
      NOTE: Essential visitors are exempt from a facility’s visitation restrictions and may have access to a resident in any zone regardless of vaccination status.
    3.  In addition to AFL 20-22.9, the following apply to all visitors, essential and general, of SNFs in Los Angeles County:
      1. In a visitor log, visitors should document their name, contact information, and locations within the facility premises they are visiting in order to assist with contact tracing if needed.
      2. All visitors should be instructed to notify the facility if they develop COVID-19 signs and symptoms and/or have a positive test within 14 days of visiting the facility. Facilities should take all necessary actions including infection control precautions based on findings.
  6. Facility responsibilities: Facilities should establish the following to support in-person visitation:
    1. Facilities should limit the number of visitors per resident at one time and limit the total number of visitors in the facility at one time based on the size of the building, size and physical configuration of visitation areas, and individual resident needs (e.g., end-of-life situations).
    2. Facilities should consider scheduling visits for a specified length of time to help ensure all residents are able to receive visitors; facilities can consider shorter indoor visits and longer outdoor visits.
    3. Facilities should limit movement of visitors within the facility to encourage visitors to go directly to and from the resident’s room or designated visitation area.
    4. Facilities should disinfect rooms and designated visiting areas after each resident-visitor meeting.
    5. Facilities are encouraged to consider implementation of physical barriers (e.g., clear plastic dividers) in visitation areas to further reduce risk of transmission
    6. Facilities are encouraged to regularly communicate visitation guidelines and expectations with residents, family, caregivers, designated decision makers, etc. facilities are also recommended to provide visitation instructions to visitors prior to their scheduled visits and/or on entry to facility.
    7. Facilities should place clear signage for visitors in relevant languages throughout the facility regarding education on COVID-19 signs and symptoms, infection control precautions including hand hygiene and universal masking, specified entries/exits and routes to designated visitation areas, etc.
    8. Facilities could consider providing infection prevention and control education for visitors who are regularly visiting (more than one in-person visit every 7 days).
  7. Facilities should continue to support other visitation options as described in AFL 20-22.9 to help keep residents and loved ones connected and minimize social isolation among residents.
SNF Table 2
B73 Communal Dining, Group Activities, and Visitation FAQs
  1. Are residents who have roommates allowed to receive essential visitation in-room e.g., for compassionate care and end of life visitation?
    • Answer: In general, in-room visitation is discouraged where there is a roommate. However, based on CMS guidance (CMS QSO 20-39-NH), for essential visitation situations including for compassionate care/end of life visits where there is a roommate and the health status of the resident prevents leaving the room, facilities should attempt to enable in-room visitation while adhering to core principles of infection prevention (see Visitation and Infection Prevention and Control Considerations sections).

COVID-19 Testing

Below are recommendations for testing and cohorting in SNFs based upon California Department of Public Health (CDPH) requirements outlined in recent CDPH AFLs:

  • AFL 20-52 Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Mitigation Plan Implementation and Submission Requirements for Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF) and Infection Control Guidance for Health Care Personnel (HCP) AFL
  • AFL 20-53.5 COVID-19 Mitigation Plan Recommendations for Testing of Health Care Personnel (HCP) and Residents at Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF) AFL
  • AFL 21-28 COVID-1) Testing, Vaccination Verification and Personal Protective Equipment for HCP at SNFs AFL

NOTE: Interpretation of COVID-19 viral test results do not change after an individual has received COVID-19 vaccination.

General Requirements

  1. Establish a relationship with a commercial lab to do PCR testing with a turn-around time (TAT) of 48 hours or less for COVID-19. Refer to LAC DPH's Laboratory Information to find a lab providing COVID-19 PCR testing. If the 48-hour TAT cannot be met, then the facility should document its efforts to obtain faster turnaround testing results including communication with the local and state health departments.
  2. COVID-19 Antigen point of care testing may be used to complement PCR testing per LA County Antigen Testing Guidance.
  3. Establish cohorting plan as part of CDPH-required COVID-19 mitigation plan.
  4. Report weekly to Public Health the number of staff and residents tested each week for COVID-19, the number who are asymptomatic and test positive, and the number who are symptomatic and test positive, as per the May 26, 2020 Board of Supervisors Motion.
  5. Thorough documentation to demonstrate compliance with testing regulations in accordance with CDPH AFL 20-53.

Testing of Symptomatic Residents or Staff.

  1. Every staff member or resident with symptoms of COVID-19 should be tested as soon as possible, regardless of vaccination status. Be aware that older adults may have atypical symptoms of COVID-19 infection including but not limited to delirium (or confusion), change in functional status, change in oral intake, and new or worsening falls with or without fever or more typical symptoms.
  2. All symptomatic residents should be presumed infectious pending test results and should be in quarantine in a private room in the Yellow Cohort, if possible, with priority given to residents with typical COVID-19 symptoms (acute respiratory symptoms). However, if a private room is unavailable, then the symptomatic resident and their roommates should remain in their current rooms with appropriate transmission-based precautions as appropriate for the Yellow Cohort.
  3. During the influenza season, residents with acute respiratory symptoms should also be tested for influenza as per LAC DPH's guidance on management of influenza in context of COVID-19 in SNFs.
  4. Any staff or resident testing positive for COVID-19 should then prompt response testing (see below).
  5. All symptomatic staff must be immediately restricted from working (see Healthcare Personnel Monitoring and Return to Work sections below).

Response Testing. If a single positive COVID-19 case is identified among either staff or residents, the SNF must conduct comprehensive testing of all residents and staff regardless of vaccination status to identify potential asymptomatic infections. All residents and staff should be tested once every 3-7 days. If testing capacity is limited, testing may be prioritized for the residents and staff in the same area (e.g., nursing station, floor, etc.) as the COVID-19 positive individual. Any close contact and exposed residents of confirmed COVID-19 cases will need to be quarantined accordingly in the Yellow Cohort (see below). All residents and staff who test negative will need to be included in response testing until there are at least 2 weeks with no additional infections identified. After 2 weeks of negative testing for residents, the facility could restart routine testing for residents as outlined below, in consultation with local Public Health.

Routine Screening Testing

Routine screening testing must be conducted according to the latest CDPH AFL 20-53 and AFL 12-28 as described below. If any resident or staff tests positive, the SNF must report the positive case to LAC DPH and proceed with response testing as described above. Routine screening testing is resumed when no new cases are identified from two sequential weeks of response testing. If COVID-19 point of care antigen tests are used as an alternative to PCR tests, then they should be administered at least twice per week and confirmatory PCR testing should follow LA County's SNF antigen testing guidelines; otherwise, the following guidance still applies.

  1. Staff including regular essential visitors: Routine screening testing of asymptomatic staff includes essential visitors who visit the facility at least once a week. Fully vaccinated staff do not need to be included in routine screening testing as long as the facility’s weekly vaccination coverage was ≥70% for both staff and residents for the previous week.
    NOTE: To be considered fully vaccinated, staff must provide acceptable proof of vaccination, otherwise they are considered unvaccinated.
    1. The facility must monitor and document every week the previous week’s vaccination coverage for residents and for staff. The week is defined as Monday through Sunday, consistent with the CDPH and NHSN reporting week.
      • Weekly staff vaccination coverage % =
        All fully vaccinated staff All staff
        • The staff vaccination coverage should include all staff who entered the facility that week who had the potential to be exposed or to expose others to COVID-19 including clinical and non-clinical, paid and un-paid, directly employed and by contract (e.g., registry, consultants), and all regular essential visitors (e.g., caregivers, essential support persons).
      • Weekly resident vaccination coverage % =
        All fully vaccinated residents All residents
    2. If the previous week’s vaccination coverage percentages for both staff and residents are ≥70%, then only staff who are not fully vaccinated should be part of the current week’s routine screening testing.
    3. If the previous week’s vaccination coverage for residents, staff, or both drop below 70%, then the facility must include fully vaccinated staff in routine screening testing for the next 2 weeks starting with the current week.
    4. Once the weekly vaccination coverage has been at least 70% for both residents and staff for at least one week and after 2 weeks of routine screening testing of all staff regardless of vaccination status have been completed, then the screening testing of fully vaccinated staff can be discontinued.
    5. Frequency of routine screening testing:
      • Fully vaccinated staff should test at a frequency of once per week when required to test.
      • Non-fully vaccinated staff (unvaccinated, partially vaccinated) working more than one shift per week should test at least twice per week.
      • Non-fully vaccinated staff who work one shift per week or less should test within 48 hours before each shift.
      • Non-fully vaccinated staff who do not work in resident care areas and who do not access any resident areas for any purpose should test once weekly.
    6. Outside test results are acceptable if documentation of test date and test result can be provided. However, home test kits are not acceptable unless they are used on site at the facility supervised by facility staff who can verify the test results correspond to the person tested.
    7. Please note the absence of test results should not delay or prevent essential visitation.
  2. Residents: Routine screening testing of residents is generally no longer required or recommended regardless of vaccination status. Please see below for exceptions.
    1. Fully vaccinated residents who frequently leave the facility for medical appointments (e.g., dialysis residents) should be tested once weekly but may remain in Green Cohort.
    2. Non-fully vaccinated residents in the Green Cohort who leave the facility for less than 24 hours, remain asymptomatic, and do not have known close contact to a confirmed case should return to the Green Cohort and be tested 5-7 days after their return.

Retesting Previously Positive Staff/Residents

  1. Staff or residents who previously tested positive and are asymptomatic should not be retested for 90 days since the date of symptom onset or date of the first positive test.
    1. Exception: If a staff or resident develops new symptoms consistent with COVID-19 ≤ 90 days of the initial positive test, if an alternative etiology cannot be identified, then retesting can be considered in consultation with the medical director, infectious disease, or infection control experts.
  2. Staff who previously tested positive and are asymptomatic will be back in the routine screening testing pool after 90 days of the date of previously positive test or date of symptom onset.
  3. Staff and residents who previously tested positive and are asymptomatic will be back in the facility-wide response testing pool and/or in response to an exposure after 90 days of the date of previously positive test or date of symptom onset.
  4. Staff or residents who previously tested positive who re-test positive 90 days or more AFTER the first infection should be managed as a new infection; the person should be isolated and would be exempt from testing for another 90 days.

Figure 1. Testing Schematic

SNF Figure 1 Diagram

Refusal of Testing

  1. Staff: The following restrictions only apply to staff directly employed by the facility.
    1. Staff who have signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and refuse testing are prohibited from entering the facility until return to work criteria are met.
    2. If outbreak testing has been triggered and a staff member refuses testing, the staff member should be restricted from entering the facility until the outbreak has been closed.
    3. For asymptomatic staff during routine testing, the facility should establish policies and procedures to address refusal in this situation. However, please note that non-fully vaccinated staff must undergo routines screening testing as per AFL 21-28 and CDPH Public Health Officer Order from July 26, 2021.
  2. Residents:
    1. Residents (or resident representatives) may exercise their right to decline COVID-19 testing in accordance with the requirements under 42 CFR § 483.10(c)(6). In discussing testing with residents, staff should use person-centered approaches when explaining the importance of testing for COVID-19. Facilities must have procedures in place to address residents who refuse testing.
    2. Residents who have signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and refuse testing must be placed in the Yellow quarantine cohort, preferably in a single room, until the criteria for discontinuing transmission-based precautions have been met.
    3. If outbreak testing has been triggered and an asymptomatic resident refuses testing, the facility should ensure the resident maintains appropriate > 6 feet distance from other residents, wears a mask, and practices effective hand hygiene until the outbreak has been closed.
B73 Testing FAQs
  1. Do DPH staff also have to get tested as part of the facility staff testing requirement?
    • Answer: No. Neither CMS nor CDPH testing requirements include DPH staff. Please see updated testing guidance on regular visitors who enter the facility more than once per week (under "Routine testing of staff and residents."
  2. When can targeted testing be considered?
    • Answer: Targeted testing can be considered in selected scenarios only when a facility’s testing capacity is limited in consultation with ACDC.
  3. We have staff who work only 2 consecutive days every week; do they also need to be tested twice per week (e.g., when administering POC antigen tests twice per week for routine screening testing)? Also, in general, what is the minimum time frame that should occur between tests?
    • Answer: Ideally, per CDPH, results from prior test should be available by the time the next test takes place. We realize that many laboratory’s TAT may not support this, so the recommendation is for a minimum of 48 hours between testing. All facility staff should get tested twice weekly, and this can be achieved by testing at an outside testing site as long as the facility receives appropriate documentation from the staff.
  4. If a recently positive resident has finished isolation, still <90 days of prior infection, and asymptomatic is then exposed by being a close contact (e.g. roommate of a positive case) or by being in the same unit/wing where a positive case in either staff or resident was identified, do they still need to be quarantined and tested?
    • Answer: Yes, they should still need to be quarantined for 14 days on Yellow Cohort status with appropriate transmission-based precautions signage (N95 respirator, eye protection, gown, glove, hand hygiene) and closer monitoring of symptoms and vital signs including oxygen saturation, but does not need to be tested. If the resident at any point becomes symptomatic, they should be treated as any other symptomatic resident and be tested in the Yellow Cohort.

 

Cohorting

Facilities should have 3 separate cohorting areas as described below and shown in Figure 2.

  1. Green Cohort: This cohort is reserved for residents who do not have COVID-19. To be in this cohort, residents must have either completed quarantine, cleared isolation, have tested negative and remained asymptomatic after last negative testing, or they are fully vaccinated as per below:
    • Fully vaccinated newly admitted or re-admitted residents
    • Fully vaccinated residents who frequently leave the facility for medical appointments (e.g. dialysis residents). Please see "Routine Screening Testing" for additional testing guidance.
    • Fully vaccinated residents who leave the facility for either medical or non-medical reasons
    • Additionally, non-fully vaccinated residents who leave the facility for non-medical reasons for less than 24 hours, remain asymptomatic, and do not have known close contact with a case should continue to stay in Green Cohort with additional testing recommendations as described in "Routine Screening Testing".
  2. Red Cohort (Isolation Area). This area is only for residents who have laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 with or without symptoms, regardless of vaccination status. Residents may be transferred to the Green Cohort once they have completed the appropriate isolation period as follows:
    1. For symptomatic residents:
      • At least 24 hours have passed since last fever without the use of antipyretic medications; and
      • Improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and
      • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
        • EXCEPTION: At least 20 days have passed since symptoms first appeared for residents with severely immunocompromising conditions. Please see below for a list of severely immunocompromising conditions.
    2. For asymptomatic residents with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19:
      • Regardless of vaccination status, these residents need to be isolated. Additional evaluation including repeat testing should be conducted in consultation with Public Health as soon as possible.
      • Unless cleared by Public Health, asymptomatic residents should isolate for 10 days since the date of first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test without the development of symptoms of COVID-19.
        • EXCEPTION: At least 20 days have passed since date of first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test for residents with severely immunocompromising conditions. Please see below for a list of severely immunocompromising conditions.
      • If they develop symptoms during this 10-to-20-day period, the isolation period should be restarted from the onset of symptoms per the symptomatic resident criteria outlined above.
    3. The following are considered severely immunocompromising conditions as per CDC: actively receiving chemotherapy for cancer, hematologic malignancies, being within one year from receiving a hematopoietic stem cell or solid organ transplant, untreated HIV infection with CD4 count <200, combined primary immunodeficiency disorder, taking immunosuppressive medications (e.g., drugs to suppress rejection of transplanted organs or to treat rheumatologic conditions such as mycophenolate, rituximab, prednisone dose >20mg/day for more than 14 days), or other severely immunocompromised condition as determined by the resident’s primary/treating physician.
  3. Yellow Cohort (Mixed quarantine & symptomatic cohort)
    • This cohort is for the following residents:
                Regardless of vaccination status
      • Residents who have symptoms, including atypical symptoms, of COVID-19 pending test results, even within 90 days of prior COVID-19 infection.
      • Close contact to a known COVID-19 case (unless recovered from a prior COVID-19 infection within the last 90 days and asymptomatic)
      • All residents on the unit or wing where a case was identified in a resident or HCP (unless recovered from a prior COVID-19 infection within the last 90 days and asymptomatic). All exposed residents can remain in their current rooms unless sufficient private rooms are available. Signage indicating appropriate transmission-based precautions should be placed outside of these residents’ rooms.
      • Residents with severely immunocompromising conditions/treatments who are newly admitted/readmitted, frequently leave the facility for medical appointments (e.g., chemotherapy), or leave the facility for 24 hours or longer for medical or non-medical reasons.
      • Residents with indeterminate test results

        Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated
      • Newly admitted or re-admitted residents (unless recovered from prior COVID-19 infection within the last 90 days).
      • Residents who frequently leave the facility for medical appointments (e.g., dialysis residents) should be grouped together in the Yellow Cohort.
      • Residents who leave the facility for 24 hours or longer, which could be for a non-medical reason (e.g., “out on pass” with family or loved ones) or a medical reason (e.g., emergency department visit).
    • Private rooms should be prioritized for residents with typical COVID-19 symptoms (acute respiratory symptoms), close contacts, and those with indeterminate test results as they have a higher probability of infection. However, if private rooms are limited or unavailable, then symptomatic residents, especially residents with atypical symptoms, and their roommates should remain in their current rooms with appropriate transmission-based precautions as appropriate for the Yellow Cohort.
    • For multi-occupancy rooms, strategies to reduce exposures between residents should be implemented: Residents with similar risk profiles should be placed in the same room (e.g., group low risk admissions in the same room). Curtains should be placed between resident beds. Staff should change gowns and gloves with appropriate hand hygiene between each resident contact in the same room.

      Residents may leave the Yellow Cohort under these circumstances:
    • If their test result is positive for COVID-19, they should be moved into the Red Cohort.
    • Newly admitted and readmitted residents who are not fully vaccinated (unless recovered from a prior COVID-19 infection within the last 90 days) should be quarantined in the Yellow Cohort for 14 days from the date of admission to the facility AND have one negative PCR test done day 5-7 after admission.
    • Close contacts and exposed residents to confirmed cases (unless recovered from a prior COVID-19 infection within the last 90 days) should quarantine in the Yellow Cohort for 14 days regardless of whether the close contact occurred inside or outside the facility (e.g., while "out on pass"). They should also have PCR testing on day 5-7 after last date of possible exposure or return to the facility AND prior to returning to Green Cohort. After 14 days have passed without the development of COVID-19 symptoms and all tests are confirmed negative, residents can be transferred to the Green Cohort.
    • Residents with symptoms of COVID-19 should remain in the Yellow Cohort until either:
      • One negative PCR test AND at least 10 days have passed AND at least 24 hours since last fever without fever-reducing medication AND improvement in symptoms (preferred).
        or
      • Two negative PCR tests at least 24 hours apart AND improvement in symptoms AND at least 24 hours since last fever without fever-reducing medication.
    • Residents with atypical symptoms of possible COVID-19 (e.g. delirium/confusion, change in functional status, change in oral intake, and new or worsening falls) can be returned to Green Cohort status if there is at least one negative PCR test.
    • Symptomatic residents who are not tested (e.g. resident refusal) should remain in the Yellow Cohort preferably in a single-occupancy room for at least 10 days since symptom onset AND at least 24 hours since last fever without fever-reducing medication AND improvement of symptoms.
    • Asymptomatic residents with indeterminate test results should remain in the Yellow Cohort unless they have a negative PCR result from a test collected within ~48 hours or the initial test and 2 days have passed since collection of confirmatory test without development of new symptoms or they have a positive result. This does not apply to new admissions, readmissions, close contacts, or exposed residents.

Figure 2. Cohorting

SNF Figure 2 Diagram

Special Staffing Considerations in Cohort Areas

  1. Staff assigned to the Red Cohort should not care for residents in other cohorts if possible. If staff must care for residents in multiple cohorts, they should visit the Red Cohort last and should doff PPE and perform hand hygiene prior to moving between cohorts.
  2. With prior approval from Public Health, asymptomatic staff with lab-confirmed COVID-19 infection may be allowed to work in the Red Cohort. They will need to be able to keep separated from uninfected staff. This includes having dedicated breakrooms and bathrooms until they are no longer considered infectious (10 days after the date of collection of their initial positive test).
B73 Cohorting FAQs
  1. Can asymptomatic, non-exposed, cleared residents be transferred between buildings on the same facility premise without first going to the yellow zone as a new admission?
    • Answer: Yes, only if there is no ongoing outbreak in either building and if county positivity rates are below 10%. “Premises” include, without limitation, the buildings, grounds, facilities, driveways, parking areas, and public spaces within the legal boundaries of the Facility.
  2. Can a facility have more than one Yellow Cohort?
    • Answer:
      • It is preferred to have one physical Yellow Cohort. However, if a facility has layout restraints, Yellow and Green Cohorts can be treated as functional cohorts. For example, a facility could cohort their partially vaccinated and unvaccinated dialysis residents in a physically different area of the facility than their main Yellow Cohort but must have all the same Yellow Cohort requirements including transmission-based precautions.
      • Additionally, multiple Yellow Cohorts may naturally be created due to entire units/wings being considered exposed as described under “Yellow Cohort”, and based on CDPH AFL 20-74, which recommends managing these exposed residents in place, and not moving them all to one Yellow Cohort.
      • Regardless of configuration of Yellow and Green Cohorts, all resident rooms must always have clear signage indicating appropriate transmission-based precautions and corresponding required PPE for entry.
  3. Are floor-to-ceiling partitions a written requirement or best practice for cohorting?
    • Answer: No, floor-to-ceiling partitions has not been written guidance on the federal, state, or local levels in terms of COVID-19 infection prevention & control. They do not serve an infection control role as SARS-CoV-2 is not a true airborne transmissible disease. Sometimes, facilities may consider the use of physical barriers to discourage staff movement in and out of the Red Cohort, but they do not need to be floor-to-ceiling partitions. If floor-to-ceiling partitions are considered, they should be implemented in consultation with facility engineers and OSHPD for approval as they could impact the facility’s air balance and air flow.
  4. How soon can Red Cohort staff start working in the Yellow Cohort or Green Cohort?
    • Answer: As long as staff is following all infection prevention and control practices including wearing appropriate PPE with correct donning and doffing, then they can start working in a different cohort/zone on a different day in a different shift. The staff should wear clean clothes for the different cohort.
  5. Can staff working in the Red Cohort ever work in the Yellow and Green Cohorts?
    • Answer: Staff working in the Red Cohort should not routinely work in either the Green or Yellow Cohorts according to CDPH AFL 20-53, unless it is necessary to ensure adequate staffing levels for other residents in the facility. Staff working in the Yellow Cohort may also work in the Green Cohort as long as they strictly adhere to all other infection prevention and control guidance (e.g., PPE requirements, properly donning and doffing with each resident encounter, frequent hand hygiene) and minimize movement back and forth between Cohorts. Also, it is recommended for staff with less frequent face-to-face interaction, e.g., EVS/housekeeping, LVNs, RNs, etc., to be preferentially shared between Yellow and Green when needed over staff with more frequent face-to-face interactions, e.g., CNAs, activity aides, rehab aides, etc.
Infection Prevention and Control Guidance

Below are general and COVID-19 specific recommendations. For more information on infection control recommendations, visit https://www.cdc.gov/infectioncontrol/basics/index.html.

General Requirements

  1. California Department of Public Health (https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CHCQ/LCP/Pages/AFL-20-52.aspx) guidance requires that facilities employ a full-time, on-site infection preventionist who will monitor compliance with infection control guidance.
  2. CDPH also requires SNFs to have a CDPH-approved COVID-19-specific mitigation plan and to provide infection prevention and control training and updated infection control guidance to its HCP.

Universal Source Control

Residents

  1. All residents must be provided a clean mask daily.
  2. Medical-grade surgical/procedure masks are required for any resident that is COVID-19-positive or assumed to be COVID-19-positive.
  3. All residents, if tolerated, should wear a mask when outside their room including those who regularly leave the facility for care (e.g., dialysis), unless they are not able to wear a mask or if they are participating in an activity where masking is not required as outlined in "Communal Dining, Group Activities, and Visitation".
  4. Residents should remain in their room during an outbreak when possible and appropriate.
  5. Residents who due to underlying cognitive or medical conditions cannot wear a mask should not be forcibly required to wear one (and should not be forcibly kept in their rooms). However, masks should be encouraged as much as possible.
  6. Contraindications to mask wearing: a mask should not be placed on anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove it without assistance.
  7. Face shields with a drape may be offered to residents who are not able to wear masks.

Staff

  1. All staff, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a medical-grade surgical/procedure mask or N95 respirator for universal source control at all times while they are in the facility. Please see COVID-19 Infection Prevention Guidance for Healthcare Personnel for an exception for fully vaccinated HCP when there is no outbreak in the facility.
  2. Please see Cohort-Specific Transmission Based Precautions and PPE section for appropriate mask use for each cohort.

Physical Distancing

  1. All staff, regardless of vaccination status, must adhere to physical distancing of at least 6 feet throughout the facility while on facility premises including in break rooms and in common areas, including when not providing resident care.
  2. Residents should keep at least 6 feet apart during group activities and communal dining except during special circumstances described in “Communal Dining, Group Activities, and Visitation”.
  3. All visitors, regardless of vaccination status, must practice physical distancing of at least 6 feet from persons they are not visiting (e.g. other resident’s visitors, staff, and other residents) while in resident rooms and common areas.

Hand Hygiene (HH)

  1. Healthcare personnel (HCP) and all other staff members should perform HH before and after ALL resident encounters including in multi-occupancy rooms as per WHO’s 5 Moments of Hand Hygiene.
  2. Facilities should have a process for auditing adherence and providing feedback on recommended HH practices by HCP.
  3. All staff, residents, and visitors should perform HH frequently including every time they enter and exit the facility, resident rooms, and common areas; before and after eating; after using the restroom; etc.
  4. Make sure HH supplies, such as soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers (ABHS), are readily accessible and well-stocked throughout the facility including at facility entrances, near resident rooms including areas where HCP don and doff PPE, at nursing stations, on medication carts, in common areas, etc.

Respiratory Hygiene/Cough Etiquette:

  1. Support respiratory hygiene such as cough etiquette by residents, staff, and visitors.
  2. Encourage all residents, staff, and visitors to perform HH after contact with respiratory secretions or contact with contaminated materials (e.g. tissues).

Transmission Based Precautions and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

HCP should follow transmission- based precautions for each cohort including standard precautions and wearing of appropriate PPE while providing resident care as detailed below.

Figure 3. PPE in Each Cohort

SNF Figure 3 Diagram
  1. General
    1. Facilities must regularly audit their HCP’s adherence to appropriate PPE use.
    2. Post appropriate Transmission-Based Precautions signage outside of each resident room: https://www.cdc.gov/infectioncontrol/basics/transmission-based-precautions.html#anchor_1564058318
    3. Post signage on the appropriate steps for donning and doffing PPE in donning and doffing areas: lacounty.gov/acd/docs/CoVPPEPoster.pdf
    4. Facilities should follow CDC’s strategies to optimize the supply of PPE and equipment to have at least a 2-week supply of PPE and other infection prevention and control supplies, e.g., medical-grade surgical/procedure masks, N95 respirators, gowns, gloves, goggles/face shields, hand hygiene supplies (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/ppe-strategy/index.html).
    5. If there are PPE shortages, the facility should make and document efforts to acquire more supply and can consider contacting Public Health’s PPE Coordinator by email for inquiries about PPE supplies: DPHPPECoordinator@ph.lacounty.gov
  2. Standard precautions for all resident care
    1. Gloves should be changed between every resident encounter including in multi-occupancy rooms.
    2. Hand hygiene should be performed as per CDC's 5 Moments of Hand Hygiene including before donning and after doffing gloves. Please see above section on Hand Hygiene (HH) for more details.
    3. Respiratory hygiene/cough etiquette must be followed at all times including during resident care.
    4. Environmental cleaning recommendations should be followed where applicable before and after patient care. This includes properly disinfecting shared equipment, e.g., blood pressure cuffs and pulse oximeters before and after vital checks.
  3. Face masks and N95 respirators
    1. In the Green Cohort, fully vaccinated staff should wear medical-grade surgical/procedure masks for all resident encounters, when entering a resident room or common area where residents may be present (e.g., dining rooms, hallways where residents may be coming and going), or within 6 ft of residents. Facilities must provide N95 respirators to non-fully vaccinated staff who are working in the Green Cohort, and non-fully vaccinated staff are strongly encouraged to wear them whenever indoors in areas where resident care is provided and/or residents may have access for any purpose.
    2. In the Yellow and Red Cohorts, all staff regardless of vaccination status should wear N95 respirators when providing resident care (e.g., entering resident room and/or within 6 ft of resident). If there is a need to preserve supply, N95 respirators can be worn in extended use (same N95 for duration of the shift).
    3. N95 respirators should be worn for all aerosol generating procedures (suction, ventilation, CPR, nebulizer treatments, etc.) for all cohorts including the Green Cohort regardless of the staff's vaccination status if the facility has an active outbreak.
    4. NIOSH-approved N95 respirators with an exhalation valve can be used as protection (i.e. as PPE) and source control when there is no anticipated high velocity body fluids as per CDC, in which case either a surgical N95 respirator should be used or a face shield can be worn without compromising the fit of the respirator.
    5. Initial and annual N95 respiratory fit testing is required for all staff per California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal-OSHA).
    6. Cal-OSHA no longer allows for re-use (over multiple shifts) of N95 respirators or extended use (with multiple residents in the same shift) when used for respiratory protection for confirmed or suspected cases, (e.g., in Yellow and Red Cohorts). However, staff may wear N95 respirators in an extended fashion if they are not interacting with confirmed or suspect cases of COVID-19.
    7. If there is a shortage of N95 respirators, facilities should make efforts to acquire more supply including documented communication with Public Health (see contact information above). If, despite these efforts, the facility is still experiencing a shortage, facilities could consider extended and/or re-use of N95 respirators and must document their reasoning in a written risk assessment.
  4. Eye protection
    1. Eye protection, which can be goggles or face shields, should be worn when staff are providing resident care, within 6 ft of residents, or while in resident rooms in all cohorts.
    2. Donning and doffing single-use eye protection for each resident encounter is recommended if there is sufficient PPE supply. However, if there is not sufficient PPE supply, extended use (worn over multiple resident encounters in a single shift) can be considered with proper storage between resident encounters that ensures no sharing between staff. If that cannot always be ensured, it’s advised to wear eye protection for the duration of the shift including in common areas, e.g., hallways.
  5. Gown use
    1. Gowns should be used for each resident encounter in Yellow and Red cohorts for COVID-19 precautions. Resident care in the Green cohort is not required for COVID-19 precautions but may be needed for transmission-based precautions for another pathogen.
    2. Gowns should be changed (donned and doffed) between every patient, included those in multi-occupancy rooms) regardless of the cohort.
    3. If there is a shortage of gowns, facilities should contact LAC DPH immediately for guidance.. 
    4. The same gowns should never be worn for care of both COVID-19 positive and negative patients.
    5. Re-use (over multiple days) of gowns is not allowed.

Environmental cleaning:

In addition to CDC guidelines, the recommendations below are referenced from the California Department of Public Health AFL for Environmental Infection Control for the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

  1. Facilities must have a plan to ensure proper cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces (including high touch surfaces such as light switches, bed rails, bedside tables, etc.) and equipment in the patient room.
  2. All staff with cleaning responsibilities must understand the contact time for the cleaning and disinfection products used in the facility (check containers for specific guidelines).
  3. Ensure shared or non-dedicated equipment is cleaned and disinfected after use according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  4. Routine cleaning and disinfection procedures (e.g., using cleaners and water to pre-clean surfaces prior to applying an EPA-registered, hospital-grade disinfectant to frequently touched surfaces or objects for appropriate contact times as indicated on the product’s label) are appropriate for COVID-19 in healthcare settings.
    1. For a list of EPA-registered disinfectants that have qualified for use against SARS-CoV-2 (the COVID-19 pathogen) go to: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2
  5. Set a protocol to terminally clean rooms after a patient is discharged from the facility. If a known COVID-19 resident is discharged or transferred, staff should refrain from entering the room until sufficient time has elapsed for enough air exchanges to take place (more information on air exchanges at https://www.cdc.gov/infectioncontrol/guidelines/environmental/appendix/air.html#tableb6)
B73 Infection Prevention and Control FAQs
  1. Can gowns be worn in the common areas, e.g. hallways, nursing stations, break rooms, etc., including in the Red Zone?
    • Answer: No, that is no longer the recommendation since CDPH AFL 20-74 was released on September 22, 2020 and as stated above under “Contact Precautions”. Extended use of gowns (using the same gown with more than one resident) is no longer allowed unless the facility is experiencing a shortage of gowns, for which extended use of gowns could be acceptable only in the Red Cohort and not for residents with known MDRO’s. Thus, gowns should be donned and doffed at resident room borders with each resident care encounter even in multi-occupancy rooms. Since gowns are doffed before exiting resident rooms, there should be no gown use in common areas, e.g. hallways, nursing stations, break rooms, etc. Similarly, gowns and gloves should not be donned upon entering the Red Cohort. If extended use of gowns is practiced including for Red Cohort residents, the facility should document the gown shortage and attempts to attain more gowns.
  2. Are there best practices for staff working at multiple facilities?
    • Answer: There is no written guidance on this. It would be recommended to change into new clothes/scrubs for the next facility.
  3. Are there special recommendations for facilities with memory care units or dementia, behavioral, or psychiatric residents?
    • Answer: CDPH has a “COVID-19 and Memory Care Units Reference Sheet.” Additionally, the concept of micro-cohorting, i.e. sub-dividing ambulatory dementia residents into smaller groups where they’re allowed to ambulate in the hallway of a small section of a unit/wing to mitigate the spread of the virus can be a consideration. Finally, we strongly encourage the facility to engage the resident’s family, designated representative, primary physician, medical director, and/or interdisciplinary team (IDT) in encouraging compliance with infection prevention recommendations (universal masking, staying in resident rooms) in creative ways that respects residents rights while protecting others.
  4. What are the recommendations for residents taking showers?
    • Facility should establish and follow a written standardized protocol for bathing & showering residents to include:
      1. In-room sponge baths are encouraged for residents in quarantine in Yellow Cohort and isolation in Red Cohort.
      2. For Yellow & Red Cohort residents who still need to shower, they should use in-room/private showers (if available). If private showers are not available, then communal shower rooms should be dedicated for cohorts of the same COVID-19 status/risk category. Red Cohort residents should never use the same communal shower area or equipment (e.g. shower benches/chairs) with non-COVID-19 residents.
      3. If a resident is able to shower independently, they should continue to do so.
      4. For Yellow & Red Cohort residents for whom showering is deemed necessary and also needs assistance, please consider the following recommendations:
        • Assisting HCP must be able to wear and maintain safe use of all recommended PPE while assisting residents with personal hygiene
        • Caution N95 respirators could slip off more easily when wet.
        • Wear water-proof PPE e.g. gowns, booties, face shields, shower cap, etc.
        • Proper donning & doffing of PPE including hand hygiene should be strictly adhered to
        • Utilize DME’s like shower chairs/benches, grab bars, etc. for residents to support themselves as much as possible so that direct contact between resident and HCP can be minimized
        • Only the minimum number of HCP needed to assist with bathing should be in the communal shower room at any moment
        • Attempt to bathe/shower resident with resident facing away from HCP as much as possible
        • Encourage resident to wear a face mask and/or face shield as much as possible, especially when resident is facing HCP
      1. Showering should be spaced out to allow proper cleaning and disinfection of bathroom surfaces with EPA-approved healthcare-grade disinfectant between each use that is clearly documented, e.g. cleaning log.
        • Most facilities have 2-4 air exchanges per hour and it takes about 2-3 hours to clear out particles that are suspended in the air. Hence it would be prudent when shared showers are used (not recommend particularly during an OB), to space out use by 3 hours while cleaning and disinfecting the areas (EVS staff to use full PPE including N-95 masks).
    • Please also involve HVAC service providers/consultants to evaluate for possible improvements to the exhaust system/fan to increase exhausted air from the shower room.

Healthcare Personnel Monitoring and Return to Work

Monitoring

All HCP should routinely self-monitor for symptoms of possible COVID-19 and the facility should screen all HCP for symptoms of COVID-19 prior to the start of shifts as per the LAC DPH COVID-19 Infection Prevention Guidance for Healthcare Personnel. Please also refer to this guidance for more detailed information regarding the management of close contacts to confirmed cases including household exposures outside of work. For staffing shortages, refer to Facilities Experiencing Staffing Shortages.

Return to Work for Symptomatic HCP and for HCP with Confirmed COVID-19

Facilities are required to follow relevant sections in the LAC DPH Guidance for Monitoring Health Care Personnel.

Inter-facility Transfers

Facilities are required to follow transfer rules as listed on the LAC DPH website (http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/acd/NCorona2019/InterfacilityTransferRules.htm).

OUTBREAK RESPONSE MEASURES
  1. Once an outbreak has been identified, facilities should immediately implement the following measures.
    1. Immediately initiate standard, contact, droplet precautions, plus N95 respiratory use and eye protection for all suspect or confirmed residents with fever and/or respiratory symptoms.
    2. Increase environmental cleaning throughout the facility to 3 times a day (if possible) with emphasis on high touch surfaces particularly in the unit where the resident was located.
    3. If you have not already done so, ensure that you are using an approved cleaning agent: List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2.
  2. Discontinue indoor group activities and communal dining for relevant residents depending on vaccination status and COVID-19 status (please see Communal Dining, Group Activities, & Visitation section). For residents where indoor communal dining is not permitted, serve meals in resident rooms. For residents where indoor communal dining and group activities are still permitted, keep the same groups together to decrease the risk of exposure. All communal dining and group activities that must still be continued should adhere to social distancing and universal source control when possible.
  3. For any transfers out of the building, notify EMS and the receiving facility of possible exposures.
  4. Allow visitors as per Visitation section.
  5. Continue to monitor all residents for fever and respiratory symptoms (i.e. cough, sore throat, shortness of breath) until 14-days after the last COVID-19 case has recovered.
  6. Lab testing of symptomatic residents should be done through a commercial lab, if possible.
  7. Response testing should be done as described in testing section above.
  8. Hold new admissions of residents without COVID-19 to units where ongoing transmission of COVID may be occurring. If the SNF has separate floors or buildings that do not have evidence of COVID transmission after response testing, AMD may elect to resume new admissions to the facility. Facilities should continue to re-admit returning residents. Please refer to Interfacility Transfer Rules for most up to date guidance.
  9. Implement a line listing of all HCP, residents, and visitors with symptoms.
  10. Notify all HCPs, regardless of vaccination status, who were exposed to the resident within 48 hours before the onset of symptoms regarding the potential for exposure and instruct them to self-monitor for fever and respiratory symptoms at least once daily for 14 days. Additionally, partially vaccinated and un-vaccinated HCP who have a high-risk exposure must be excluded from work and must follow quarantine instructions. Please refer to LAC DPH COVID-19 Infection Prevention Guidance for Healthcare Personnel regarding restriction from work depending on vaccination status (http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/acd/ncorona2019/healthfacilities/HCPMonitoring/ ).
  11. Monitor all HCP (regardless of contact with a case) for fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Symptomatic HCP may not work, regardless of vaccination status.
  12. Instruct the facility to notify District Public Health Nurse (DPHN)/Outbreak Investigator (OI) assigned to the facility immediately if any resident or staff report fever or respiratory symptoms.
  13. Notify DPHN/OI immediately if any HCP contact tests positive for COVID-19.
  14. Screening of all HCPs, regardless of vaccination status, for fever (>100.0° F) and respiratory symptoms at least at the beginning of each shift should continue.
  15. Symptomatic HCP with compatible symptoms and no clear alternate diagnosis should isolate at home pending clinical evaluation and testing as per the LAC DPH COVID-19 Infection Prevention Guidance for Personnel.
  16. Laboratory-confirmed HCPs should be excluded from work and follow return to work protocol as described below:
    1. HCP with mild to moderate illness who are not severely immunocompromised can return to work:
        1. At least 10 days after symptom onset AND
        2. At least 24 hours since last fever without fever-reducing medication AND
        3. Improvement in symptoms.
    2. Asymptomatic HCP who are not severely immunocompromised should be excluded from work until 10 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test, assuming they have not subsequently developed symptoms. If they develop symptoms, follow above guidance.
    3. Symptomatic HCP with severe or critical illness or who are severely immunocompromised can return to work:
        1. At least 20 days after symptom onset AND
        2. At least 24 hours since last fever without fever-reducing medication AND
        3. Improvement in symptoms.
    4. Note: Asymptomatic HCP who are severely immunocompromised, should wait to return to work until at least 20 days since first positive viral diagnostic test.
    5. Refer to LAC DPH COVID-19 Infection Prevention Guidance for Healthcare Personnel and a companion guidance, CDC Criteria for Return to Work for Healthcare Personnel with Confirmed or Suspected COVID-19 (Interim Guidance).

Special situations for long-term care facilities to consider

  1. Residents who have possible symptoms of COVID-19 should be transferred to the YELLOW (mixed quarantine) cohort immediately and tested. They should be placed in single rooms if possible, or cohorted together until testing is performed.
  2. Residents who test positive should be transferred to the RED (COVID-19 positive) cohort.
  3. Symptomatic residents may be moved back into the GREEN (Non-COVID-19) cohort if they meet either of the two criteria listed in "Yellow Cohort" under "Cohorting" section. Residents who test negative for COVID-19 should be tested for influenza and other respiratory pathogens as per the LAC DPH guidance on Testing & Isolation/Quarantine for Influenza in the Context of COVID-19 in SNFs.
  4. Any positive COVID-19 PCR tests of residents in the GREEN cohort should trigger response testing of the residents and HCP of the facility, should be identified as an outbreak and should warrant outbreak response measures.
  5. For partially vaccinated and unvaccinated residents receiving dialysis outside of the facility, notify their dialysis center and request that they be dialyzed in “isolation.” Fully vaccinated dialysis residents can be placed in Green Cohort but unvaccinated and partially vaccinated dialysis residents should be placed in the Yellow Cohort.
  6. Consider substituting metered dose inhalers for nebulizers to reduce the risk of aerosolization.

ADMISSIONS AND READMISSIONS TO SNFs DURING AN OUTBREAK

  1. In an outbreak situation, admission of new residents (new admissions) and returning residents (readmissions) should be permitted unless closure is approved by the AMD and in communication with HFID (licensing).
  2. The decision to close admissions, with approval by the AMD and in communication with HFID, should be recommended based upon a number of factors. Consider closing the facility to admissions if the following are concerns:
    1. Immediate jeopardy for infection prevention & control concerns by HFID
    2. Concerning rates of adverse outcomes including hospitalizations and deaths
    3. Evidence of concerning viral transmission based on response testing of residents
    4. Inability to cohort residents per protocol
      1. Inability to effectively quarantine new admissions and readmissions
      2. Inability to effectively dedicate COVID and non-COVID areas in the facility
    5. Lack of effective infection control practices as evidenced by a virtual or on-site infection control visit
    6. Inadequate supply of PPE
    7. Staffing shortages reported

CLOSURE CRITERIA

Outbreak can be closed once closure criteria are met (one of 1-3 and 4:
  1. Two consecutive weeks of response testing in residents  have been negative; OR
  2. 14 days from the last onset of a symptomatic resident case if response testing is not being performed based upon the assessment of the AMD; OR
  3. Upon the discretion of the AMD.

AND

  1. Prior to closure, all the following documents must be completed:
    1. PHN/OI uploads all documents into IRIS and completes all required documents in IRIS per protocol.
    2. PHNS reviews and forwards to AMD.
    3. PHN/OI or PHNS can close COVID-19 outbreak in IRIS after approval by AMD or AMD delegated physician. Closure letter will be signed by AMD or AMD delegate and placed in IRIS under the filing cabinet.

GUIDELINES FOR OPENING A NEW OUTBREAK AFTER CLOSURE

For facilities that are conducting response driven testing

  1. The outbreak cannot be closed until two weeks of testing are completed, demonstrating no additional transmission among residents.
  2. If a single new case in a resident who has not tested positive in the past 90 days is identified after two weeks of negative testing, the facility should be opened as a new outbreak.
    • Once the NEW outbreak has been opened under a NEW outbreak number, DPHN/OI can manage the facility with the following abbreviated procedures:
      1. Contact the facility to reinforce infection control recommendations.
      2. Determine if there are any infection control barriers or deficiencies with cohorting, staffing, PPE, etc.
      3. Ensure facility is able to conduct response testing.
      4. Monitor site for new cases weekly until investigation can be closed.
      5. Documentation to include the epi form, line list, and clearance letter. The notification letter and HOO are optional upon the discretion of the MD assigned to the investigation.
    • NOTE: A facility with a single case should accept new admissions as long as there are no infection control barriers/challenges, the facility is able to properly cohort residents, the facility has an adequate quarantine area to receive the residents, and is compliant with response testing requirements.
    • If >2 cases are identified at the facility or if the facility admits to substantial infection control barriers or deficiencies, then consider managing the OB with standard OB procedures, including check-ins and onsite/virtual visits as appropriate.

DEATH REPORTING

DPHN/OI must be notified of a death and the facilities will need to complete and submit a death report form to ACDC.


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  • Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.

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