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Alabama nursing home visitation restrictions remain due to federal guidelines

Gov. Kay Ivey lifted restrictions that will go into effect this Saturday which allows at least two visitors.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Governor Kay Ivey lifted restrictions on nursing home visitations Thursday, but federal regulations remain the same.

Ivey's changes allows at most two visitors effective this Saturday.

However, in order to allow visitors, a nursing home cannot have new onset COVID cases in the last fourteen days.

The county's positivity rate also has to be less than ten percent. Nursing home officials believe as long as cases are down and vaccinations are up, the federal regulations should be revisited. 

"We're not asking again to go back down to pre-COVID visitation, but certainly the federal government needs to look at the current situation and reevaluate and give us some metrics or some goals we could meet to then have less restricted visitation," says Alabama Nursing Home Association Communications Director, John Matson.

Matson says just one positive COVID-case would be considered an outbreak.

Check out their full statement:

Visitation Update

Despite the drop in cases and vaccine rollout in Alabama and nationwide, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has not revised its visitation restrictions. Nursing homes must continue to follow the CMS visitation guidance issued September 17, 2020. Failure to follow the guidance can result in penalties for the nursing home.

“We appreciate Governor Ivey and Dr. Harris for continuing to work with nursing homes and helping us open visitation for our residents and families. We know how important it is for nursing home residents to be able to visit their loved ones in-person and have been working to reopen our doors since CMS first restricted visitation in March 2020. We hope the federal government will soon review and revise the guidance in light of the declining cases and vaccine uptake. Until then, we are encouraging our members to hold in-person visits as long as the nursing home can meet the federal requirements,” Farmer said.

The federal guidance states nursing homes must meet the following criteria to allow limited indoor visitation:

·         Have no new onset of COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days and not be currently conducting outbreak testing.

·         Limit the number of visitors per resident, limit the number of visitors in the building at one time and limit visitors’ movement inside the building.

·         Visitors must wear a mask that covers their mouth and nose and practice social distancing while visiting their loved one during their entire visit.

·         Even if the nursing home meets these criteria, it can’t allow indoor visitation if the county COVID-19 positivity rate is greater than 10%.

·         CMS allows nursing homes to require additional infection control measures such as COVID-19 testing or proof of a recent negative test.

The public can visit https://anha.org/visits/ for an easy-to-understand guide for facility visits.

For the most up-to-date COVID vaccine information, check out this WZDX story: Alabama COVID vaccine updates