WASHINGTON (AP) — The government on Friday directed nursing homes to open their doors wide to visitors, easing many remaining pandemic restrictions while urging residents, families and facility staff to keep their guard up against outbreaks.
The new guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services instructs nursing homes to allow visits at all times for all residents. Facilities will no longer be able to limit the frequency and length of visits, or require advance scheduling. Although large groups of visitors are discouraged, nursing homes won’t be allowed to limit the number of loved ones and friends who can pay a call on residents.
Many states and communities are still grappling with COVID-19 surges driven by the aggressive delta variant, but the most recent government data show that cases among residents and staff have continued to decline after rising earlier in the summer and fall.
Nationally, vaccination rates average 86% for nursing home residents and 74% for staff, although that can vary dramatically from state to state and facility to facility. Many nursing homes are rushing to provide booster shots for their residents. Staffers were recently required by the government to get vaccinated.