Americans with elderly loved ones in nursing homes on Wednesday got a bit of good news this week when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provided updated guidance for those visitors to long-term care facilities.
The best news included in Wednesday’s updated guidelines? Visitors can finally hug their loved ones.
According to the updated CMS guidelines, nursing home residents can safely embrace visitors, so long as both have been vaccinated for COVID-19 and both are wearing a well-fitting mask.
“We acknowledge the toll that separation and isolation has taken,” CMS said. “We also acknowledge that there is no substitute for physical contact, such as the warm embrace between a resident and their loved one.”
CMS added that visitors should continue to physically distance themselves from other residents and staff within the facility.
As part of the guidance released on Wednesday, CMS said that those who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 can still visit loved ones in nursing homes but should avoid physical contact.
In addition, CMS on Wednesday said nursing home visitations should be allowed unless:
- COVID-19 positivity rate is above 10 percent in the country, or if less than 70% of residents at the facility have not been vaccinated.
- A resident has a confirmed COVID-19 infection — whether they are vaccinated or unvaccinated
- A resident is in quarantine — whether they are vaccinated or unvaccinated.
The new guidance comes after nursing home residents and staff received priority in receiving COVID-19 vaccination. According to the American Health Care Association, there has been a 90% drop in COVID-19 cases in nursing homes in the last three months, an astounding statistic that exemplifies the safety and effectiveness of the newly-approved vaccines.