Federal Officials Relax Guidance On Nursing Home Visits, Citing Vaccines And Slowing Infections
Federal health officials on Wednesday substantially relaxed the government’s guidelines for family and friends to see nursing home residents in person, saying that vaccinations and a slowing of coronavirus infections in the facilities warrant restoring indoor visits in most situations.
The nursing home guidance, the first federal advice on the subject since September, says “outdoor visitation is preferred,” even when a nursing home resident and family or friends are fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.
But acknowledging that weather or a resident’s poor health might make an outdoor visit impractical, the recommendations encourage nursing homes to permit indoor visits “at all times and for all residents,” regardless of whether people have been vaccinated, except in a few circumstances.
According to the American Health Care Association, which represents 14,000 nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, about 1.3 million people live in U.S. nursing homes. Nearly 1 million more live in assisted-living facilities, which are not covered by the recommendations.
Mark Parkinson, the association’s president, called the recommendation that nursing home residents can see loved ones in person “welcome news that we fully support. . . . [T]hanks to the vaccines, we cannot wait to safely open our doors.”
Parkinson urged the CDC to continue giving vaccine priority to nursing home residents and staff “to help facilitate these reunifications,” making sure shots are easy to obtain for new residents, and for those who hesitated at first but have chosen to be vaccinated now.