Reopen NY: Nursing home visitation resumes, residents allowed 2 guests each

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York State health officials announced Friday that limited visitation will resume at nursing homes and long care facilities in the state, with each resident allowed two guests provided the facilities have been COVID-free for at least 28 days.

State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said temperatures checks, facemasks and social distancing will be required.

At least one of the two visitors must be at least 18 years of age or older.

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For each facility, only 10% of the residents can be allowed visitors at any time. For example, in a 100-bed facility, no more than 10 residents can have visitors per day in order to maintain proper social distancing and ensure safe compliance.

Nursing homes accepting visitors will be required to send their visitation plan to New York State Department of Health and affirmatively attest that they are following the guidance.

Dr. Zucker also announced the resumption of on-site visitation for the state's Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, which provides additional support to residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities, effective July 15, 2020.

Ombudsman staff must utilize appropriate PPE for the duration of the visit, and must be screened as if they were a staff person of such nursing home, including having to present a verified negative test result to the nursing home within the past week.

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The Department of Health will make adjustments to the visitation policy as appropriate based on facts and data following this initial phase to ensure the health and safety of residents, staff and visitors.

"With the knowledge we now have about how COVID-19 came into nursing homes, mainly through asymptomatic staff and visitors through no fault of their own, it is critical that as we resume visitations to these facilities we do it in a smart and cautious way to ensure the health and safety of residents and staff," Dr. Zucker said. "We will continue to closely monitor the situation in each facility, and make adjustments based on the facts and data moving forward. I know how painful it has been for residents of these facilities to endure such a long period of time without seeing family and loved ones, and my hope is that this adjustment to the visitation policy will provide some comfort to everyone."

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