New York State Health Commissioner Doctor Howard Zucker is now announcing the guidelines that will allow visitors back into nursing homes on Friday, February 26 for the first time since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago.

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One of the requirements is for rapid testing visitors on-site if the county has a COVID positivity rate of over five percent on a rolling seven-day average at no cost to the visitor.  There would be no required testing if a county has a lower positivity rate or if the visitor has proof of vaccination.

Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News (file)
Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News (file)

Nursing homes must provide separate visitation spaces or be able to hold visitations in a resident’s room and limit the number of visitors based on the nursing home resident capacity.  Facilities also must enforce pandemic protocols like mask wearing and washing hands.

The full visitation guidelines can be found at the New York Department of Health website.

Doctor Zucker says the big focus is on the visitors coming into facilities since all nursing home residents and staff have been offered the COVID-19 vaccine.  He says, while there are guidelines to allow vaccinated visitors into facilities without rapid testing, the state encourages testing anyway at the site since people can still have the coronavirus in their nasal passages.

People with loved ones in nursing facilities should contact those homes to find out when visitations will begin and what steps need to be taken ahead of time.

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