Image of an older women with walker in long-term care setting interacting with healthcare provider

Nursing homes are being encouraged to quarantine residents who leave the facility for more than 24 hours under updated guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Circumstances that call for residents to be quarantined were among the changes addressed in the latest revision. The agency released it late last week as part of new infection control and prevention recommendations.

The CDC recommended that providers should create a plan for residents who leave the facility. Residents, along with accompanying individuals, should be reminded and educated about infection control and prevention practices, which include social distancing and hand hygiene. 

The agency noted that in most circumstances, quarantine is not recommended for residents who leave the facility for less than 24 hours and don’t come into close contact with someone with COVID-19. 

“Quarantining residents who regularly leave the facility for medical appointments would result in indefinite isolation of the resident that likely outweighs any potential benefits of quarantine,” the guidance states. 

Those who are away from the facility for 24 hours or longer should be treated the same as new admissions and readmissions. Those residents should be placed in a 14-day quarantine, “even if they have a negative test upon admission,” according to the CDC. 

“Exceptions include residents within [three] months of a [COVID-19] infection and fully vaccinated residents,” the guidance states. 

Facilities in areas with minimal to no community transmission can choose to use a risk-based approach for determining which residents require quarantine upon admission. Decisions should be based on whether the resident had close contact with someone with COVID-19 while outside the facility, and whether there was consistent adherence to infection control and prevention best practices “in healthcare settings, during transportation, or in the community prior to admission,” it adds. 

On Thursday, Minnesota announced updated guidance inline with the latest CDC recommendations. It allows residents who leave the facility for less than 24 hours to return without quarantining, just as long as they don’t come into close contact with someone who has COVID-19.

The complete updated guidance can be found here.