With the skilled nursing world on high alert following news of a novel Coronavirus 2019 outbreak in an eldercare facility, industry medical groups have released updated guidance for preparation and containment.

In a new release, The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine provides recommendations on how to evaluate symptoms, prevent transmission and manage suspected cases. Since incidence of COVID-19 in the larger community remains rare at this time, eldercare providers should first report suspected cases to their local and/or state public health departments, the association said.

“Our members have been reaching out to us, and this interim guidance provides timely and valuable information,” said AMDA Executive Director Christopher Laxton, CAE.

Meanwhile, facility administrators should be ramping up respiratory virus containment efforts, stated the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living in guidelines updated this weekend. The groups recommend that providers:

  • Review plans for cohorting residents in the same room or wing who become sick to prevent the spread to other residents and staff, should the outbreak continue to grow
  • Starting now, post notices for visitors who are sick to stop visiting and work with families on alternate ways to visit their family members, like Skype, phone calls and email
  • Check to see whether the local health department is recommending more restrictive visitation criteria as COVID-19 spreads
  • Remind staff, contractors, volunteers to stay home if they are sick
  • Stay in close contact with local and state health departments
  • Ensure that the facility infection preventionist signs up for health department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announcements

Older adults face a high risk for adverse outcomes from the COVID-19 virus. Preliminary statistics from cases to date show that those at greatest risk are older adults with pre-existing heart conditions or hypertension, reports Agence France-Presse.