The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said it will require nursing homes to test staff for the COVID-19 pandemic and to offer testing to nursing home residents, a policy that carries financial penalties for violations. Facilities that fail to comply with the mandate face civil monetary penalties of more than $400 per day up to a total of $8,000, and the rule also requires hospitals to provide pandemic data to the Department of Health and Human Services. Another stipulation in this rule is that labs must report testing outcomes to HHS, noncompliance of which would merit a first day fine of $1,000 and an additional fine of $500 per day afterward. Medicare beneficiaries can obtain a test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus without a prescription, but any additional tests must be accompanied by an order.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said it will release 1.5 million N95 masks from the Strategic National Stockpile for distribution to more than 3,300 nursing home facilities in the U.S., delivery of which is set to commence Aug. 28. HHS said these will be shipped to nursing facilities that have reported that they have sufficient supplies for three or fewer days of operation, and will suffice to support seven days of operations. The program is restricted to nursing homes approved under the Medicare and Medicaid programs.