Strengthening the Foundation: CDC Updates Guidance on COVID-19 Prevention for Nursing Homes

Author: Amanda Thornton, CIC, RN, MSN

Categories: Clinical Pathogens/Alerts, General Infection Prevention & Long Term Care October 28, 2021
Healthcare Nurse and Elderly Patient

From early in the pandemic, we watched as one nursing home after another began to experience infections, outbreaks, then deaths, from this highly transmissible virus.  Long-term care (LTC) facilities scrambled to prevent and contain the virus from ravaging their residents, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had almost daily updates on prevention guidance specific to LTC. Now,  over a year and a half into the pandemic, CDC has provided some recent updates to the guidance.

What are the updates for nursing homes and why?

Older adults living in congregate settings are at an increased risk of being affected by respiratory pathogens, such as SARS-CoV-2, amongst other viral and bacterial threats.1 As long-term care facilities are beginning to resume normal activities, they will need to sustain the interventions implemented during the onset of the pandemic and remain vigilant regarding SARS-CoV-2 infection surveillance for both residents and staff.

To strengthen the infection prevention and control (IPC) foundation for nursing homes, the CDC continues to update the guidance for LTC facilities based on evolving data and science around COVID-19 transmission, infection, vaccination, and deaths.  These updates can be found on their website page dedicated to Coronavirus2 and include the following:

  • Updated outbreak response guidance to promote use of contact tracing approach.
  • Updated expanded screening testing recommendations for healthcare personnel (HCP).
  • Updated recommendations for quarantine of fully vaccinated residents.
  • Updated visitation guidance

What are the updates for protecting staff against the virus?

It is also important to note that LTC facilities should be aware of other local, state, and federal requirements that may also apply.  This includes updates by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) such as the emergency temporary standard (ETS) COVID-19 healthcare worksite checklist and employee job hazard analysis.  The OSHA ETS was released in June of 2021, and LTC facilities should already be compliant with this regulation. The OSHA ETS requires LTC facilities to have a COVID-19 plan, developed in consultation with non-managerial employees and then shared/communicated in an ongoing, transparent way.

Updated policies evaluating the job hazard level of contracting the virus should be in place, along with interventions (“controls”) for such jobs to prevent transmission.  The standard also requires employers to provide reasonable time and paid leave for employee vaccinations including the time needed for vaccine side effects.

Weathering the Storm

As the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic continues, LTC facilities cannot let their guard down for even a moment.  The pandemic has presented an opportunity to correct some of the long-standing problems and reduce some of the key risk factors for infection transmission in this unique healthcare space.

The spotlight on COVID-19 has allowed facilities to dedicate more time, money, and resources to infection prevention efforts in general, which benefits the residents who live there. With a strong IPC foundation, nursing homes will be able to weather any upcoming storms of SARS-CoV-2 variant surges as “the house don’t fall when the bones are good.”3


Amanda Thornton RN, MSN, CIC, VA-BC
amanda Clinical Science Liaison, PDI West Region


Amanda has been in nursing for the past 25 years.  She spent nine years as a direct care nurse in many clinical settings. In 2005 she entered into infection control and prevention, where she found a passion for all things related to preventing avoidable HAI’s. She became certified in infection control through the CBIC, and worked as a front line Infection Preventionist until she advanced to be the Chief Clinical Officer of a 68 bed LTAC in Denver Co.

Amanda is also a clinical educator and was an instructor for the LPN and C.N.A. programs through the Unitah Basin Applied Technology College, where she taught the Med-surg, pharmacology, C.N.A. and infection control courses for students.

Amanda is currently a Clinical Science Liaison supporting the West Region.


Phone: 720-849-1168
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Resin geode and fluid Art
Lit RPG fiction
Colorado camping and hiking


Master of Science in Nursing – Emphasis in Infection Control and Epidemiology
American Sentinel University, Aurora, Colorado

Bachelor of Science in Nursing, BSN
University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, Colorado

Certification Board of Infection Control (CBIC) – CIC
Certification Association for Vascular Access – VA – BC

Why I love what I do

I love being a nurse and caring for people.  When I recognized that I could touch many more lives by preventing infections through becoming a Certified Infection Preventionist, I jumped at the chance.  Seeing the impact I can have with patients, families, and staff through sharing my knowledge of infection control has been a highlight of my career. Joining the team at PDI has allowed me to expand my reach even further. At the end of my week, I am so amazed that I have such an awesome opportunity to help protect patients and loved ones from infections through the use of our products, and the proven science behind them!

Areas of Expertise

Infection control and prevention
Environmental disinfection
Ventilator Care
Vascular Access
Long term care
Long term acute care
Dementia care
Infection surveillance technology

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