In a move that is set to ease restrictions on indoor nursing home visits by guests regardless if they have been vaccinated or not. The Biden administration published updated guidelines for nursing home visits, which would allow guests to visit residents in nursing homes even if they have not been vaccinated.
Outdoor Nursing Home Visitations In-Effect, Even Without Vaccinations
The recommendations were released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid services (CMS) and the Center for Disease Control and prevention (CDC), and are the first such regulations pertaining to nursing homes since last September.
The move comes at a time when the nation is overseeing mass vaccination programs, with more than 3 million vaccines administered in nursing homes. Covid-19 cases in the US are also on a decreasing curve, as the CDC released new guidelines on Monday for people who were fully vaccinated with the freedom to gather in small groups without masks or social distancing.
Approximately 33 million Americans have at least taken a single shot of the vaccine, with 62.5 million people who have been fully vaccinated. Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have been authorised by the US government to manufacture and distribute vaccines across the nation. While Pfizer and Moderna have a two-dose series for a complete vaccination program, Johnson and Johnson has been authorised for a single dose vaccine.
The Chief Medical Officer at CMS, Dr. Lee Fleisher stated that the reason behind the new guidelines were due to the fact that millions of vaccines have already been administered in nursing homes to the residents and staff, which has seen a decline in the number of infections in those nursing homes.
The novel Coronavirus had ravaged the US ever since WHO declared a global pandemic last year. Since then, nursing home deaths accounted for one-third of the total deaths post-spring, with over 150,000 fatalities in nursing homes including residents and staff. However, federal data reveals that ever since the vaccines were rolled out, the numbers have fallen sharply with nursing homes being a prime target for government and local distribution agencies for administering vaccines.
Nevertheless, these guidelines are not absolute, with the eight pages of recommendations setting up some exceptions to such visitations. The recommendations prohibit visitations if residents have Covid-19 or are under quarantine. The recommendations allow ‘responsible indoor visitation’ with the exception in case of a guest visiting an unvaccinated resident in a county with Covid-19 positivity rate more than 10% and where less than at least 70% of the residents have been fully vaccinated.
Regardless of these guidelines, federal officials have still stressed upon outdoor visitations due to lower risks of virus transmissions, even if both the residents and the guest have been fully vaccinated. However, the officials also quoted that ‘compassionate care’ visitations should be allowed if a resident’s health has severely deteriorated irrespective of vaccination status or the positivity rate of the county.
As the vaccination drive makes its way to more and more Americans, the virus numbers are on a downward slope, prompting many states to ease up public restrictions. Restaurants in New York and New Jersey could open at half capacity from March 19, which would see them join other states with similar dining limits like Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
The half-capacity rules also apply to casinos, salons, and gyms, which would take effect a couple of days after St. Patrick’s Day.
There have also been due cautions made by officials and health experts over the move, as a study published by CDC found that counties allowing on-premises dining witness a daily rise in infections about 6 weeks later and an increase in death rates about 8 weeks later.