Governor: Louisiana will quickly implement new federal guidance to expand nursing home visitation
Published 1:30 pm Friday, September 18, 2020
Louisiana will move to quickly implement new guidance from the federal government easing restrictions on visits to nursing homes during the COVID pandemic, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Friday.
The new guidance issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services late Thursday allows nursing homes to conduct outdoor visitation with social distancing. Nursing homes located in parishes with no more than 10 percent test positivity and without any new onset of COVID cases in the last 14 days can allow indoor visitation. As of Tuesday afternoon, Washington Parish did not meet these criteria.
CMS does recommend a number of mitigation measures, including that nursing homes limit how many visitors a resident can have at one time, as well as limiting the number of visitors that can be in the facility at once. 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.
This CMS guidance is effective immediately, and LDH updated its State Health Officer Order. CMS imposed restrictions on nursing home visitation in March in an effort to control outbreaks of the coronavirus and protect one of our most vulnerable populations.
“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,” 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.
“I want to thank the Louisiana Department of Health and the Louisiana Nursing Home Association for their collaboration on this issue and the nursing homes across Louisiana that have worked to manage the health of their residents in a very difficult time.”
To date, a total of 2,225 nursing home deaths have been identified in Louisiana. These deaths make up 43.4 percent 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.