As New Jersey continues its fight to keep coronavirus cases and deaths down, it is now looking to reconnect some families who have been separated for months as visitors will once again be allowed at some long-term care facilities.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday that parents and guardians of residents at pediatric long-term care facilities can now begin indoor visitations under specific conditions. Relatives of developmentally challenged individuals at centers will also be able to visit their loved ones as well.
Murphy said facilities with zero new positive COVID-19 cases over a 28-day period can begin allowing indoor meetings by appointment only.
"When it comes to some of our state's most vulnerable residents, we have had to take extra precautions to save lives," Murphy said.
Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said officials realize it’s been difficult for parents and loved ones to be away from their children for more than three months.
“Reuniting families ... is a critical step for the mental, physical, social and emotional well-being of these children, but we need to be vigilant,” she said.
Visitors must be screened for symptoms and exposure to the virus and a designated area in the facility must be designed, she said. Anyone with symptoms won’t be allowed to visit, she added.
As of Wednesday, Gov. Murphy hadn't hinted at when indoor visits to standard nursing home and rehab facilities would be allowed to continue. However, the state is opening up its mass transit to more passengers. Buses, trains and light rail can go back to full capacity now, although all riders must wear a mask.
Murphy also reported on Wednesday that there were 396 new positive coronavirus cases, putting the total at more than 176,000. The death toll climbed by 27 to 13,660 confirmed fatalities. There remain 1,947 suspected COVID-19 deaths.