La. allows nursing home visits with protections

alex brown

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued new guidelines late Thursday, allowing some nursing homes to conduct outdoor visitation with social distancing. NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana is working fast to follow new COVID-19 federal guidelines that allow more nursing home visits than earlier in the struggle to limit the […]

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued new guidelines late Thursday, allowing some nursing homes to conduct outdoor visitation with social distancing.

NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana is working fast to follow new COVID-19 federal guidelines that allow more nursing home visits than earlier in the struggle to limit the pandemic, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Friday.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued new guidelines late Thursday that allow nursing homes to conduct outdoor visitation with social distancing.

Nursing homes in parishes with no more than 10% test positivity and without any new onset of COVID cases in the previous 14 days can allow indoor visitation.

CMS does recommend several mitigation measures, including nursing home limitations on how many visitors a resident can have at one time, as well as limiting the number of visitors that can be at a nursing home at any given moment. 

The guidance also says face coverings, social distancing of at least six feet between people should be adhered to at all times and that all visitors must be screened for symptoms of COVID-19, including fever.

CMS guidance allowing visits is effective immediately, and the Louisiana Department of Health will update its State Health Officer Order Friday

Previous guidelines from the agency restricted nursing home visitation in March in an effort to control outbreaks of the coronavirus and protect one of our most vulnerable populations: the elderly.

“Recognizing the impact of isolation and the importance of connectedness, Louisiana’s Department of Health was slated to release details today of a nursing home visitation pilot in our state; instead, we will move quickly today to implement this new federal guidance,” Gov. Edwards said. “We know these past several months have been tough, especially for our nursing home residents and their loved ones. It’s time for us to do something. At the same time, we are still in the middle of a pandemic and these residents are among our most vulnerable. We all must do our part to make sure this new policy is successful. That means wearing our masks and staying six feet away from others, including when we visit our loved ones in nursing homes.” 

To date, a total of 2,225 nursing home deaths have been identified in Louisiana. These deaths make up 43.4% of the all COVID-19-associated deaths in Louisiana. Nursing homes in Louisiana have reported more than 10,000 COVID-19 cases among residents and staff. Nearly every nursing home in the state has had at least one COVID-19 case among residents or staff.

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