Indoor Visits With Nursing Home Residents OK, New CDC Guidance Says

Health officials have relaxed federal COVID-19 guidance for nursing homes for the first time since September, recommending that even unvaccinated visitors and residents be allowed to meet in person under most circumstances.

“Facilities should allow indoor visitation at all times and for all residents (regardless of vaccination status), except for a few circumstances when visitation should be limited due to a high risk of COVID-19 transmission,” the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, said in advice issued Wednesday.

The revised advice also said that “compassionate care visits should be permitted at all times.”

In the latest guidance, however, the CMS recommends that indoor visit should be limited in cases where an unvaccinated resident is in a county where the coronavirus positivity rate exceeds 10% and fewer than 70% of the facility’s residents are fully vaccinated.

Other exceptions are for residents confirmed to have COVID-19 — regardless of their vaccination status — and residents in quarantine.

While indoor visits are acceptable, outdoor visits pose less risk and are “preferred even when the resident and visitor are fully vaccinated,” the guidelines said.

The revised recommendations are a further sign that the U.S. may be finally turning the corner on the coronavirus pandemic, a year after it began. Nearly 530,000 people in the U.S. have died of COVID-19, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. The number of new coronavirus infections among the general U.S. population has also been generally declining since January, although that positive trend appears to have leveled off at about 60,000 new cases a day.

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