The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) has quietly released more expansive guidance regarding the reopening of different types of organizations.  The document, entitled  CDC Activities and Initiatives Supporting the COVID-19 Response and the President’s Plan for Opening America Up Again,  builds upon the decision tools issued by the CDC last week.  The HL Pulse addressed the decision tools here.  Previously, the Associated Press published a sixty-three page guidance document that the White House declined to release.  The CDC states that “[w]idespread community mitigation combined with ongoing containment activities represents both an effective intervention for limiting the spread of COVID-19 and a serious threat to the economic well-being of the country and the world.”  The CDC provides insights into the COVID-19 surveillance plan, healthcare system surveillance, infection control and contact tracing, test usage, and assessing surveillance and hospital gating indicators.

The guidance document provides interim guidance for various types of organizations that is “meant to supplement the decisions tools CDC released on May 14, 2020.”  Specifically, the guidance addresses:

  • Child care programs;
  • Schools and day camps;
  • Employers with workers at high risk;
  • Restaurants and bars; and
  • Mass transit administrators.

According to the CDC, the guidelines set forth “a menu of safety measures, from which establishments may choose those that make sense for them in the context of their operations and local community, as well as state and local regulations and directives.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected nursing home communities in the United States.   According to the CDC, “[g]iven their congregate nature and resident population served (e.g., older adults often with underlying chronic medical conditions), nursing home populations are at high risk of being affected by respiratory pathogens like COVID-19A.”  A Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) analysis entitled Infection Control Deficiencies Were Widespread and Persistent in Nursing Homes Prior to COVID-19 pandemic examined CMS data between 2013-2017.   The GAO found that 82 percent of all surveyed nursing homes had an infection prevention and control deficiency cited in one or more years during this period.  Despite this large number of deficiencies, the GAO noted that “nearly all infection prevention and control deficiencies (about 99 percent in each year) were classified by surveyors as not severe, meaning the surveyor determined that residents were not harmed.”

Norton Rose Fulbright attorneys will continue to provide relevant updates for healthcare providers on the Health Law Pulse during the COVID-19 public health crisis.