Pennsylvania’s Departments of Health and Human Services released more detailed guidance over the weekend about how nursing and personal care homes could again allow visitors.
Under previous rules, long-term-care facilities needed to wait 28 days after their county entered the “green” phase. Under the new rules, they can allow visitors if they have gone 14 days without a new coronavirus case among staff or residents whether their county is in the green or “yellow” reopening phase, but they have to meet a list of prerequisites.
Before they can consider reopening, they have to develop a plan for visitation and post it on their website, if they have one. That plan should include scheduling and safety measures. Facilities must have met a baseline requirement to test all residents and staff for the coronavirus and be prepared to test any resident with new symptoms within 24 hours. They must have protocols for daily screening of staff, residents, and any visitors. They need adequate staffing and protective equipment.
If facilities have had no new cases for 14 days, they can allow visitors, prioritizing residents who have progressive cognitive decline or have talked about feeling lonely. Visits must be scheduled and held outside or in areas typically not occupied by residents. Universal masking is required and staff should monitor visits.
The new rules also allow for limited communal dining and activities among people who have not been exposed to the coronavirus after prerequisites are met. In dining areas, residents must be spaced six feet apart. Staff should wear gowns and eye protection, and use hand sanitizer between residents if helping more than one person eat.
Activities can be allowed, starting with five or fewer residents. Universal masking is required.