New York Relaxes COVID Restrictions at Nursing Homes to Allow More In-Person Visitation

After rallies were held outside New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Manhattan office earlier this month to bring attention to the restrictions on visitation at nursing homes, on September 15, 2020, the Cuomo administration announced it has relaxed COVID restrictions at nursing homes to allow family members to have more in-person visits with residents.

The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) relaxed the requirements that a nursing home be free from any positive COVID results from 28 to 14 days, which was previously set by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. It is anticipated this revision will allow eligible visitation at 500 of the state’s 613 nursing homes. The revision went into effect on September 17, 2020.

Visitors are still required to present a negative test result within the prior seven days or they will be prohibited from entering the nursing home. In addition, the number of visitors to the nursing home must not exceed ten percent of the resident census at any time, with only two visitors allowed per resident at any one time.

Visitors are required to undergo a temperature check, wear a face covering, and socially distance during the visit. Visitors under 18 are prohibited.

Nursing homes that accept visitors are required to send their visitation plan to the NYSDOH and affirmatively state they are following the NYSDOH’s guidance.

Dr. Howard Zucker, NYS Health Commissioner, stated in a public release, “We understand how trying it has been for New Yorkers to not see their loved ones and the challenges they’ve had to endure during this unprecedented pandemic. The number of nursing homes that have taken the necessary steps to protect residents from the asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 while working to reopen to outside visitors, shows that adhering to the DOH visitation guideline is the smart and cautious approach to allowing visitations. We continue to be guided by science and concern for residents’ welfare and will monitor nursing homes that host visitors, to make sure this action does not lead to an increase in cases.”

 

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