FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 5, 2020
On June 4, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released data on the number of nursing home residents who have died of COVID-19 – almost 32,000 people. We know that many more residents and staff have died, since testing remains so limited and many older people who have COVID do not display the typical respiratory symptoms that are common in younger people.
On June 4, CMS also reported the results of targeted infection control surveys that have been conducted since March. These results are also startling: 5743 infection control surveys have been conducted and only 163 surveys (less than 3%) cited any problem in infection control. Most of the deficiencies (161) are classified at a “no harm” level, meaning there is unlikely to be any penalty. These survey results, finding, at most, just minimal problems, are not credible.
As the Government Accountability Office reported just two weeks ago, 82% of nursing facilities were cited with infection control deficiencies at least once between 2013 and 2017 and 48% of facilities were cited in multiple years. The GAO called infection control problems “widespread,” “persistent,” and not sanctioned by the regulatory system. Infection prevention and control problems have been the most commonly cited deficiency for years.
It is simply not plausible, during the pandemic, when at least 32,000 residents have died of COVID-19 and large proportions of deaths from COVID-19 nationwide are residents and staff, that facilities have no problems in their infection prevention and control practices.
Problems cannot be fixed going forward if they aren’t even identified and acknowledged.