Nursing home infection control strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic

BACKGROUND: The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 awarded $500 million toward scaling “strike teams” to mitigate the impact of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) within nursing homes. The Massachusetts Nursing Facility Accountability and Support Package (NFASP) piloted one such model during the first weeks of the pandemic, providing nursing homes financial, administrative, and educational support. For a subset of nursing homes deemed high-risk, the state offered supplemental, in-person technical infection control support.
METHODS: Using state death certificate data and federal nursing home occupancy data, we examined longitudinal all-cause mortality per 100,000 residents and changes in occupancy across NFASP participants and subgroups that varied in their receipt of the supplemental intervention.
RESULTS: Nursing home mortality peaked in the weeks preceding the NFASP, with a steeper increase among those receiving the supplemental intervention. There were contemporaneous declines in weekly occupancy. The potential for temporal confounding and differential selection across NFASP subgroups precluded estimation of causal effects of the intervention on mortality.
CONCLUSIONS: We offer policy and design suggestions for future strike team iterations that could inform the allocation of state and federal funding. We recommend expanded data collection infrastructure and, ideally, randomized assignment to intervention subgroups to support causal inference as strike team models are scaled under the direction of state and federal agencies.