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New York State releases new guidelines for visiting nursing homes

On Friday, February 26, new visitation guidelines start allowing people to see loved ones face-to-face

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Visiting loved ones at a nursing home will soon change. No more waving through a window only as a way to visit or say hello. Face-to-face visits can begin on Friday, February 26.

The new guidelines will weigh heavily on COVID-19 cases in a county.

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said facilities in a county where COVID positivity rates are less than 5%, no testing would be required, but it is encouraged.

For counties with COVID-19 positivity rates between 5% and 10%, visitor testing is required and visitors must show a negative COVID-19 test, either PCR or rapid, taken within 72 hours. A nursing home may use a rapid test to meet the requirement. 

If a county has COVID cases with a positivity rate greater than 10%, no visitors are allowed, unless it is a compassionate care visit.

What if you have been vaccinated? A visitor can provide proof of a completed COVID-19 vaccination no less than 14 days from the date of the visit and no more than 90 days prior to the visit.

Visitation will be in residents rooms or a dedicated space.

There is a maximum number of visitors allowed in a building. It must not exceed 20% of the number of residents in the facility.

Masks and social distancing will be in effect.

Visitation will depend on the nursing home facility being free of COVID-19 cases for 14 days.

The vast majority of nursing home residents have been vaccinated.

The new guidelines for visitation comes on the heels of increased scrutiny of how the Cuomo administration reported nursing home deaths across the state.

The New York State Attorney General issued a report indicating nursing home deaths may have been undercounted by nearly 50%.