CMS Updated NHSN Data – Supporting COVID-19 Testing

CMS Updated NHSN Data – Supporting COVID-19 Testing

The Department of Health and Human Services recently announced that they will begin providing nursing homes with a Point of Care (POC) rapid response testing instrument to bolster each facility’s ability to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The data collected through the NHSN system directly supports this initiative by helping to prioritize the nursing homes with testing needs and an increasing number of cases.

For the methodology describing how facilities are prioritized, and a listing of the facilities, please click here.

A list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) is also available here.
Some highlights from the FAQ document:

  • Instruments and tests will ship directly to the nursing home from the manufacturer.
  • Shipments will go out once per week for 14 weeks. Priority will be updated based on epidemiology data and NHSN data (cases, deaths, testing access).
  • The FAQ includes a link to CDC guidelines for collecting and handling specimens associated with COVID-19.
  • Test instruments must be used in the location associated with the CLIA waiver. If you are a Life Plan Community, you will need to use your instrument in the nursing home where your CLIA waiver is associated, rather than in your AL or IL section.
  • Test instruments will need to be sanitized in between runs. Consider this in your PPE and supply calculations.
  • As we have heard, negatives are “presumed negative” and should be considered in context: what recent exposure has the resident/staff member had, are they showing any signs/symptoms consistent with COVID-19? If so, follow up with the PCR test.
  • Negatives in areas of high prevalence should be confirmed with a PCR test.
  • Nursing homes must report all tests (not just positives) in accordance with HHS Lab Data Reporting Guidance.




Laura Hofmann, MSN, RN – Director of Clinical and Nursing Facility Regulatory Services
c: 425-231-4804