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New federal guidance relaxes nursing home visitation rules during the coronavirus pandemic

Larry Plott visits with his 87-year-old mother, Mildred, at Burns Nursing Home on Friday, August 14, 2020. The two were able to have a close, in-person visit with the aid of a specially built plexiglass box.
Larry Plott visits with his 87-year-old mother, Mildred, at Burns Nursing Home on Friday, August 14, 2020. The two were able to have a close, in-person visit with the aid of a specially built plexiglass box.

The updated guidance was announced Wednesday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Posted: Mar 10, 2021 3:46 PM
Updated: Mar 10, 2021 3:47 PM

The federal government issued updated guidance on Wednesday relaxing visitation rules for nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said “facilities should allow responsible indoor visitation at all times and for all residents, regardless of vaccination status of the resident, or visitor, unless certain scenarios arise that would limit visitation” for the following:

  • Unvaccinated residents, if the COVID-19 county positivity rate is greater than 10 percent and less than 70 percent of residents in the facility are fully vaccinated;
  • Residents with confirmed COVID-19 infection, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, until they have met the criteria to discontinue transmission-based precautions; or
  • Residents in quarantine, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, until they have met criteria for release from quarantine.

The guidance also says “compassionate care” visits should be allowed at all times, regardless of a resident’s vaccination status, the county’s coronavirus positivity rate or an outbreak.

This comes after Gov. Kay Ivey’s extension of Alabama’s Safer at Home Order through April 9 called for an immediate slight increase in the number of caregivers and visitors allowed in Alabama hospitals and nursing homes. “Subject to reasonable restrictions, patients and residents will be allowed visits from as many as two caregivers (up from one) or as many as two visitors (up from one) at a time,” the order said.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said “Although outbreaks increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission, as long as there is evidence that the outbreak is contained to a single unit or separate area of the facility, visitation can still occur.” You can read the full announcement here.

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