Nursing homes can now lift most of the COVID restrictions on visits: Coronavirus Updates: NPR

Nursing homes can now lift most of the COVID restrictions on visits: Coronavirus Updates: NPR


Melvin Goldstein, 90, looks over pictures of birds, left, and a fish his 13-year-old granddaughter drew for him as a gift when his daughter Barbara Goldstein shares them with his family during a family visit to the Hebrew Home in Riverdale on May 28. March in New York. On Friday, the government eased many remaining pandemic restrictions.

Kathy Willens / AP


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Kathy Willens / AP


Melvin Goldstein, 90, looks over pictures of birds, left, and a fish his 13-year-old granddaughter drew for him as a gift when his daughter Barbara Goldstein shares them with his family during a family visit to the Hebrew Home in Riverdale on May 28. March in New York. On Friday, the government eased many remaining pandemic restrictions.

Kathy Willens / AP

WASHINGTON – The government on Friday ordered nursing homes to open their doors wide to visitors to ease many remaining pandemic restrictions and urged residents, families and staff at the facility to guard against outbreaks.

The new policy of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services instructs nursing homes to allow visits for all residents at all times. The facilities can no longer limit the frequency and duration of visits or require prior planning. Although large groups of visitors are discouraged, nursing homes are not allowed to limit the number of family members and friends residents can call.

Many states and municipalities are still struggling with spikes in COVID-19 fueled by the aggressive Delta variant, but the latest government data shows that cases in residents and employees have continued to decline after rising earlier in the summer and fall .

Nationwide, vaccination rates average 86% for nursing home residents and 74% for staff, although this can vary widely from state to state and facility to facility. Many nursing homes are rushing to provide their residents with a booster vaccination. Employees were recently asked by the government to get vaccinated.

This “comes closest to the pre-pandemic visit we’ve had since the pandemic began,” said Jodi Eyigor, director of nursing home quality and policy at LeadingAge, an industry group representing nonprofits.

“But it doesn’t mean the pandemic is over and COVID isn’t floating around,” added Eyigor. “The nursing homes, residents and their loved ones must all work together to ensure that visits are made and that they are safe.”

The federal guideline draws a line on visits by people who have tested positive for COVID or meet the criteria for quarantine. Nursing homes should not allow access to COVID-positive visitors.

However, residents can still receive visits if their facility is in the middle of an outbreak investigation or if they are themselves taking special precautions to prevent transmission of COVID. In such cases, residents and visitors must wear masks and protective equipment.

On Friday it was unclear how the new federal guidelines would work with potentially more restrictive local and state requirements.

People in long-term care facilities have taken a cruel toll from the pandemic. They make up about 1% of the US population but are responsible for about 3 in 10 deaths. The ravages of COVID have been compounded by the forced isolation. The nursing homes were closed in March last year and residents were unable to see their loved ones in person until early this spring.



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Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

Trending topics news writer who enjoys cooking, walking her dog and travel.

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