Virginia revises guidelines for nursing home visits

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner InsideNoVa.com and republished with permission. Sign up for InsideNoVa.com’s free email subscription today.

In accordance with new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, the Virginia Department of Health has updated its recommendations for nursing home visitations.

The health department noted that the number of new cases of COVID-19 reported in Virginia nursing home residents has been consistently decreasing since mid-January. As of Friday, only 215 positive cases were reported in nursing homes statewide, according to tracking from the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association. That number was as high as 2,200 in January.

At the same time, the health department noted, nearly 280,000 vaccine doses have been administered to residents and staff in Virginia long-term care facilities.

While relaxing current restrictions on indoor visitation might increase the risk for transmission the virus, the health department said in a release, “Virginia’s progress in the vaccination of residents and healthcare personnel can mitigate some of these risks, and public health officials understand that expanding visitation has substantial benefits to residents.”

The health department is recommending that indoor visitation could be permitted for all residents except as noted below:

  • Indoor visitation for unvaccinated residents should be limited solely to compassionate care situations if the COVID-19 county positivity rate is greater than 10% and fewer than 70% of residents in the facility are fully vaccinated.
  • Indoor visitation should be limited solely to compassionate care situations, for:
  • Facilities experiencing outbreaks should continue to follow guidance from their local health department. Nursing homes should also follow guidance from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on when visitation should be paused.
    • Visitors should be counseled about their potential to be exposed to COVID-19 in the facility if they are permitted to visit.
  • Additional recommendations are outlined by CDC and CMS.

The health department said it recommends that all long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, assisted living facilities, group homes, and other congregate healthcare settings adhere to these guidelines.

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