April 01, 2021

CMS Issues Updated Guidance for Safely Expanding Visitation Access to Nursing Homes

On March 10, CMS issued updated guidance for nursing homes to start expanding visitation access safely as the population of COVID-19 immunized nursing home residents increases. CMS is advising that nursing homes should start allowing responsible indoor visitation for all residents regardless of the vaccination status of the visitor or the resident so long as certain circumstances are not present. The first scenario being for unvaccinated residents if the COVID-19 county positivity rate is 10% or higher and less than 70% of the residents are fully vaccinated. Second, visitation should be restricted for residents with a confirmed COVID-19 infection until they are eligible to discontinue transmission precautions. Third, visitation should be restricted for residents in quarantine until the criteria for discontinuing quarantine have been met.

CMS is also advising that exceptions be made to allow for compassionate care visits, which include visits for a resident whose health has sharply declined or is experiencing a significant change in circumstances. CMS emphasizes that infection control precautions, such as social distancing and a preference for outdoor visitation when possible, continues to be the safest way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.