The federal government on Monday released guidelines states could follow to reopen long-term care facilities to visitors.
In the guidelines, which have no legal weight, the Trump administration recommended that nursing homes don’t reopen for visitation until they have no new reported COVID-19 for at least 28 days; have adequate personal protective equipment for staff members; and have adequate access to COVID-19 testing.
Gov. Ron DeSantis announced last week that he would like to reopen Florida’s nursing homes, which have been closed to visitors since March 14. DeSantis said he thought banning visitation prevented thousands of cases of COVID-19 at nursing homes and assisted living facilities but that it came at the cost.
“Having the isolation does come at a psychological and social cost,” the governor said. “I think one of the frustrating things throughout this whole process has been an inability of people to ever discuss the negative effects of mitigation.”
But the moratorium on visitors, as well as other steps the DeSantis administration has taken, have not prevented the deadly respiratory disease from spreading in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and intermediate care facilities for people with developmental disabilities in many areas of the state. As of Monday, Florida had 901 COVID-19 deaths involving residents or staff members of long-term care facilities.
Outside visits with distancing and masks would allow some interaction with families and much needed fresh air for residents. Sanitize AC systems and vents in nursing homes. Require staff to wear PPE. Protect residents with PPE. Many staff continue to work knowing they are positive for COVID. Facilities must continually test and quarantine staff until they test negative. Nursing homes charge dearly and owe these preventative measures to residents and underpaid staff.