Nursing Homes Face New Regulations as Coronavirus Deaths Continue to Climb

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Across the country, the complaints are growing.

Families say that when it comes to their loved ones in nursing homes, they feel like they're being left in the dark regarding COVID-19.

So the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is stepping in.

"Today, we are announcing that we are requiring nursing homes to report to patients and their families if there are cases of COVID virus in the nursing home," said the agency administrator, Seema Verma, during a White House coronavirus press conference Sunday.

That is just one of two new coronavirus rules the agency says will increase transparency in nursing homes.

Varma said the new rules will also help them better track and slow the spread of COVID-19.

The second rule requires nursing homes to work directly with the Centers for Disease Control.

"We are also requiring nursing homes to report directly to the CDC when they have cases of COVID virus," Varma said.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is also taking steps to ramp up testing at nursing homes.

"We are also paying for labs to go out to nursing homes to collect samples and that's really going to support efforts on nursing homes in order to isolate patients," Varma said.

The news comes after six more veterans died at the Soldiers Homes in Holyoke and Chelsea, which brings the total number of deaths to 60. Fifty are from COVID-19.

The Holyoke location remains under state and federal investigation.

As President Donald Trump and some anti-social distancing opponents of the safety measures call for a reopening of the economy, officials say gathering this data is key to doing so.

"This is important, as you have heard Dr. [Deborah] Birx talk about as we reopen the United States our surveillance effort around the COVID virus will also begin in nursing homes," Varma said.

It is unclear when the new reporting system and rules will take affect. In a memo Sunday, the agency said that they would be put into place "very soon."

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