On November 18, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released an alert urging nursing homes to follow established COVID guidelines for visitation and infection prevention during the upcoming holidays.

In its press release, CMS noted that "While the holiday season is typically a time for family and friends to gather, CMS implores staffs, residents and visitors to exercise extreme caution this year." This includes continuing to follow CMS's guidelines for visitation and adhering to the core principles of infection prevention, such as social distancing, wearing face coverings and limiting the number of visitors at any one time. CMS also recommends that facilities find creative ways of celebrating the holidays through virtual parties or visits, seasonal music, movies and decorations, and avoiding typical gatherings that could increase transmission.

Although some residents will want to leave the nursing home to celebrate the holidays with family and friends, CMS does not recommend this and states that nursing homes should educate residents and their families of the risks of leaving the home. If a resident does choose to leave the nursing home, CMS has several recommendations, including limit close contact, wear facemasks or cloth face coverings at all times, opt for individually prepared plates by a single server, perform hand hygiene often, think ahead about how you will manage to prevent physical interactions with loved ones of different ages such as young children, and others. CMS advises nursing home staff to follow the same recommendations. CMS also provides recommendations for when a resident returns to the nursing home, including increase monitoring for signs and symptoms and place the resident on transmission-based precautions if the resident or family member reports possible exposure.

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