Now that businesses have started to re-open when can New Yorkers visit their loved ones in nursing homes? The federal government has issued guidelines for reopening nursing homes to visitors, but the process will take more time.

When visits do resume, they will be different from before the pandemic, at least at first. Nursing homes will need to take several steps to minimize COVID-19, which has appeared in over 7,500 long-term care facilities, causing more than 35,000 deaths, according to AARP.

Recommendations by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for state and local officials determine when visitors can return and how to safeguard against more outbreaks when they do. There will be differences, from state to state and nursing home to nursing home,

Residents and staff will need a baseline test for the coronavirus to make sure there are no known cases. Staff should also be tested weekly and all residents should be tested again if any resident has coronavirus-like symptoms or any employee or staff member tests positive for COVID-19.

Reopening recommendations also include:

  • No new cases for 28 days.
  • A decline in cases in the surrounding community
  • Adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning and disinfection materials.
  • Staff is adequate, with no shortages.
  • Local hospitals have enough beds to take care of any residents who need to be transferred there.

The federal guidelines call for everyone entering a facility to undergo “100 percent screening,” including:

  • checking visitors’ temperatures,
  • questioning them about symptoms and potential exposure, and
  • observing them for any symptoms or signs of infection.

Visitors will need to follow social-distancing guidelines, wash their hands and use sanitizer, and wear a face covering.

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