New York is easing up on its nursing home visitation restrictions as the state continues to combat the spread of COVID-19.
On Tuesday, Sept. 15, state health officials announced that approximately 500 of the state’s 613 nursing homes can reopen to visitors if they have not had any positive COIVD-19 cases for at least 14 days, down from the previous mandate of no cases within 28 days.
The new rules come into effect on Thursday, Sept. 17 following thousands of confirmed and presumed COVID-19-related deaths in nursing homes across the state, especially at the outset of the outbreak.
"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,” New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said in a statement.
Before entering a nursing home, visitors must present a verified negative COVID-19 test that was administered within the past seven days, and visits will largely be limited to outdoor areas or well-ventilated spaces with no more than 10 people practicing social distancing and wearing face coverings.
The number of visitors at any given time must not exceed 10 percent of the residents in the nursing home, and only two visitors will be permitted for any one resident at a time.
Visitors will undergo temperature checks, and no one under the age of 18 will be allowed into New York nursing homes.
“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,” Zucker said.
“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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