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Nursing home visitation should expand, CDC says

Visits should be allowed regardless of whether the visitor or the resident have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to new guidance.
Judie Shape, center, who tested positive for the coronavirus, blows a kiss to her son-in-law, Michael Spencer, left, as Shape's daughter, Lori Spencer, right, looks on during a March 2020 visit at the Life Care Center near Seattle. New guidance from the federal government, dated March 10, 2021, is encouraging facilities to resume in-person visits.
Judie Shape, center, who tested positive for the coronavirus, blows a kiss to her son-in-law, Michael Spencer, left, as Shape's daughter, Lori Spencer, right, looks on during a March 2020 visit at the Life Care Center near Seattle. New guidance from the federal government, dated March 10, 2021, is encouraging facilities to resume in-person visits. [ TED S. WARREN ]
Published Mar. 11, 2021|Updated Mar. 11, 2021

Nursing homes should allow “responsible indoor visitation at all times for all residents” now that millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines have been distributed in those facilities, says new federal guidance released this week by the country’s top health agencies.

Visitation should be allowed regardless of whether the visitor or the person they are visiting has been vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to new guidance by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some scenarios, however, could require more strict visitation rules, the guidance said. Visitation should be limited for the following nursing home residents: those who have not been vaccinated and live in a county with a coronavirus positivity rate greater than 10 percent, as well as in a home where less than 70 percent of residents are fully vaccinated; those who are infected with COVID-19, whether vaccinated or not; and those who are in quarantine, whether vaccinated or not.

“Compassionate care” visits, or visits to residents whose health has sharply declined, should be allowed at all times, regardless of vaccination status, the guidance said.

In all cases, the “core principals” for preventing spread of COVID-19 should be followed, additional guidance states. Visitors should wear well-fitting face masks, practice good hand hygiene and social distance when possible, and especially when the person they are visiting has not been vaccinated.

“We acknowledge the toll that separation and isolation has taken,” the guidance reads. “We also acknowledge that there is no substitute for physical contact, such as the warm embrace between a resident and their loved one. Therefore, if the resident is fully vaccinated, they can choose to have close contact (including touch) with their visitor while wearing a well-fitting face mask and performing hand-hygiene before and after.”

Facilities should consider the number of visitors per residents at a time, and movement of visitors within a facility should be limited, the guidance states.

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