A masked nurse works at a computer
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Funding is available for long-term care providers looking to make air quality upgrades to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Facilities can apply for civil monetary penalty (CMP) reinvestment funds to purchase portable fans and air room cleaners with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters to increase or improve air quality, according to updated guidance released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Wednesday. CMS staff had detailed the coming changes during a nursing home stakeholder call this week.

Providers can request a maximum of $3,000 per facility, including shipping costs. CMS also detailed best practices for improving air quality to reduce COVID-19 risks during visitation, which included adding ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) to heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC). 

“To avoid having multiple groups of people or multiple visitors for a resident within small rooms or spaces, designate special visitation areas that are outdoors when practical or in designated large-volume spaces with open windows and/or enhanced ventilation,” the guidance states. “Ensure proper maintenance of [a] HVAC system to ensure maximum outdoor air intake.” 

CMS staff emphasized that there has never been “one single practice” that reduces the transmission of COVID-19 but rather a multitude of tactics and resources providers can use.

“All these things are the things that you know. It’s hand hygiene, it’s physical distancing, it’s masking and it’s also air flow,” Evan Shulman, director of CMS’ Division of Nursing Homes, said during the call Wednesday. 

“We’re just trying to layer on top all of the practices that can help reduce the transmission of COVID-19, so we need to keep at them all,” he added. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also released updated guidance on infection control and prevention recommendations for nursing homes.

The CMS updated frequently asked questions document can be found here.