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Background: US nursing homes are required to follow Centers for Disease Control guidance for COVID-19 transmission-based precautions (TBP) when admitting COVID-positive patients.

Objective: To assess how frequently nursing homes had shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) or staffing in weeks when they admitted COVID-positive patients, which likely made it more difficult to follow TBP, and to compare facility characteristics by admissions practices.

Design and Setting: Facility-level data from the Nursing Home COVID-19 Public File for the period between June 7, 2020 and March 7, 2021 was combined with additional data. The percentages of nursing homes that admitted COVID-positive patients and that had shortages when admitting were calculated for each week. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression models were used to examine the relationship between facility characteristics and the likelihood of admitting COVID-positive patients.

Measurements: Facilities were categorized as having admitted COVID-positive patients in a week if one or more admissions requiring TBP were reported for that week. Facilities that reported having less than a 1-week supply of any type of PPE or being short any type of staff in a week were defined, respectively, as having a PPE shortage or staffing shortage in that week.

Results: Over the 40-week study period, 39% of US nursing homes admitted COVID-positive patients in at least 1 week in which they were experiencing PPE or staffing shortages. Facilities that admitted COVID-positive patients with shortages generally had lower Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services overall five-star ratings than other facilities. Only a small percentage of facilities that admitted COVID-positive patients while facing shortages were located in counties with severe shortages of PPE or staffing. In logistic regression models, shortages were not associated with COVID-positive admissions.

Conclusion: The widespread practice of admitting COVID-positive patients while facing shortages may have put nursing home residents and staff at heightened risk of COVID-19 infection.


This article was originally published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, available at

This article is made freely available as part of the COVID-19 public health emergency response. It can be used for unrestricted research re-use and analysis in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source, for the duration of the public health emergency.


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