NORTH CAROLINA — Following months of stringent visitation restrictions amid the ongoing pandemic, nursing home and long term care facility patients will now be allowed to have visitors indoors, state public health officials announced.
Visitors will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and must wear a face mask, according to the new guidelines. The new visitation rules will apply to facilities that haven’t had any positive COVID-19 cases in a 14-day span in counties where the percent positive rate is less than 10 percent.
Monday, at least 224 nursing homes and 91 residential care facilities in North Carolina reported a COVID-19 outbreak, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The policy change is due to the stabilization of key metrics, such as hospitalizations, new case confirmations and the percentage of positive tests.
“Our progress in testing, infection control and slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our communities allows us to move forward with safe indoor visitation in accordance with federal guidance,” DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen said in a statement.
As of Sept. 28, North Carolina reported 208,248 positive COVID-19 cases, and 3,445 deaths. Nearly 16,000 of the state’s COVID-19 cases and at least 1,750 deaths have been reported in state nursing homes and residential care facilities since late March.
The new order, which went into effect Sept. 28, applies to nursing homes and large residential settings of seven or more patients, including adult care homes, behavioral intermediate care facilities and psychiatric residential treatment facilities.
The new DHHS guidelines call for:
Designated visitation areas that allow for social distancing and limits movement within the facility.
Adequate staffing to supervise, monitor, and assist as appropriate for the individual’s needs.
Screening of visitors for symptoms of illness, known exposure to COVID-19, and presence of a face covering.
Refusing visits based upon screening, or lack of adherence to infection control measures such as wearing a mask, hand hygiene or social distancing.
Potentially limiting of the number of visitors, such as to 2 per individual at a time.
Disinfecting visitor areas with an approved EPA registered disinfectant after each visit.
More detail about the new visitation policy may be found here.
This article originally appeared on the Charlotte Patch