At the beginning of February 2022, the CDC and CMS issued updates to their policies regarding COVID and nursing home visiting guidelines. These updates come as we are all hoping the pandemic is coming to a close and in the wake of our fight to restore nursing home residents’ rights to visitation. The following are part of the CDC and CMS official updated guidelines.
- If testing is required to enter nursing home facilities, the facility must provide the rapid test to the visitor.
- Visitors are not responsible for obtaining a test, and if the facility does not provide a rapid test, visitors cannot be required to test before entering. Visitors must be allowed to enter if they do not have COVID-19 symptoms or meet the criteria for quarantine (e.g., a positive COVID-19 test result).
- Visitors, regardless of vaccination status, must wear masks and physically distance themselves from other residents and staff when in a communal area in the facility. Separately, while we strongly recommend that visitors wear masks when visiting residents in a private setting, such as a resident’s room when the roommate isn’t present, they may choose not to.
- CMS suggests best practices for improving air quality during visitation. Facilities can employ multiple strategies to manage airflow, and funding is available to facilities for environmental changes to reduce COVID-19 transmission.
- As nursing homes resume normal activities, they must continue with their infection prevention and control practices in order to prevent spread and protect residents and health care workers from severe infection, hospitalization, and death.
One of the things we learned throughout the pandemic is the consequences of isolation. CMS recognizes that isolation is incredibly harmful to those in nursing homes and can even result in physical and psychosocial decline. They will continue to advocate for visitation to be allowed, though it will continue to require certain precautions like masking and vaccination.
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