Requirements for Long-Term Care Facilities to Report COVID-19 Cases Within the Facilities to Residents and Their Families

By: Janet A. McSharar

Indiana’s long-term care and assisted living facilities must inform facility residents and their designated representatives of certain COVID-19 information pertaining specifically to the facilities.  The Indiana State Department of Health recently issued its reporting guidelines, which closely track the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ reporting requirements. 

Nursing facilities, skilled nursing facilities, residential facilities, and assisted living facilities must inform facility residents and their designated representatives with this information:

  1. How the facility is handling issues with care and staff shortages;
  2. General information about COVID-19;
  3. The number of residents and staff who have tested positive and the number of “new” positive cases within the past 14 days;
  4. The number of residents who have died due to the virus; and
  5. Facility mitigation actions implemented to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, including if normal operations of the facility have to be altered.

In issuing these communication requirements, the State Department of Health hopes to calm concerns and fears among residents and their families, and to address potential misinformation.  In addition to these group reporting requirements, long-term care facilities and assisted living facilities must tell potential residents and their designated representatives before the resident is admitted to the facility about the facility’s COVID-19 status.  So, the information required to be communicated to residents and their designated representative must also be given to potential residents before admission.

Effective May 4, 2020, the State Department of Health updated its communication requirements to address the public’s and media’s request for COVID-19 information and to more closely comply with federal reporting requirements.  All long-term care facilities must now send daily group emails, automated voicemails, or automated electronic communications such as text messages or emails to residents and their designated representatives each Monday through Friday informing them of:

  1. The total number of residents and staff with COVID-19;
  2. The number of new cases in the past 24 hours;
  3. If there are three or more new cases of respiratory illness occurring in the last 72-hours among facility residents or staff; and
  4. What measures are being taken to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

To accomplish the State Department of Health reporting requirements, long-term care and assisted living facilities must assign a facility staff member to be the contact person for residents and their designated representatives thereby giving residents and their loved ones someone to speak to about any concerns.  If the designated staff member is not available or a message for him or her cannot be left, the facilities are required to provide residents and their designated representatives an alternative number to reach a staff member or to have a compliance or customer service hotline available to take calls.

Either the facility residents or his or her designated representative may opt out of receiving the daily reports. 

Additionally, facilities are required to report weekly information to their local Ombudsman and to provide each resident and their designated representative of the local Ombudsman’s contact information. 

The State Department of Health recommended establishing a facility list serve or chat room where staff members provide a daily briefing to residents, designated representatives, and other family members about what is happening in the facility.

These requirements and suggestions are all in an effort to inform and update those most interested in and affected by a facility’s COVID-19 status while at the same time protecting the residents’ privacy and the facility’s business operations. Theses reporting requirements address any public misperception that long-term care facilities are not reporting COVID-19 infections and deaths among residents and staff to current or potential residents.

The State Department of Health reminds us the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact (within about six feet) with one another through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.  It may be possible for a person to contract COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. 

If you have questions about reporting COVID-19 in long-term care facilites , contact your DSV attorney or Janet A. McSharar at

***The information contained on this website is for informational purposes and is not intended as formal legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such.  No attorney client relationship is established or intended as a result of the information contained on this website.***