The U.S. Loosens Nursing Home Visitor Ban

Many older adults and frontline workers have received their coronavirus vaccinations in the United States, and as one of the first countries to re-open nursing home doors to guests, the States will test the waters on the safety of loosening pandemic restrictions. 

According to a recent New York Times report, about 62.5 million people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.  On March 10th, the Biden administration announced new guidelines for nursing homes that will allow guests to visit residents regardless of whether visitors have been vaccinated.  The announcement comes to the great relief of many families who have struggled to stay connected and provide support as their loved-ones remained isolated and separated. 

The new U.S. regulations suggest that responsible indoor visitation should be allowed unless a guest is visiting an unvaccinated resident in a county where the COVID-19 positive rate is greater than 10 percent and fewer than 70 percent of nursing home residents have been fully vaccinated.   Visits should be limited if a resident has coronavirus and is in quarantine. 

Early in the pandemic, COVID-19 took a serious toll on long-term care facilities where more than 150,000 residents and healthcare workers died as a result of infection.  With the delivery of vaccines, the rates of new cases and deaths in nursing homes have dropped significantly, allowing for a loosening of visitor restrictions. 

The new guidelines still recommend outdoor visits when possible to reduce the risk for transmission, but compassionate care visits are being allowed when the health of a resident has critically worsened — regardless of vaccination status or positivity rates. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also issued updated guidance for vaccinated Americans who may now gather safely in small groups at home without masks or social distancing.  In public, people who have been fully vaccinated should still wear a mask, avoid crowds and keep a 6-foot distance from others until more is known.  Two weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series or two weeks after a single dose vaccine, people are considered fully vaccinated.  

Learn more by following this link to the CDC website.