New York began to allow people to visit loved ones — with restrictions — at nursing homes Wednesday, but few homes have opened their doors.
Just 22 of more than 600 nursing homes in New York have submitted needed safety plans to allow limited visits, according to the state Department of Health. And it’s unclear just how many of them started allowing visits Wednesday.
Only nursing homes and long-term care facilities without any coronavirus cases among residents and staffers in the last 28 days can allow limited visits, under a plan announced by State Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker on Friday. Zucker’s agency had estimated that as many of one-fourth of the state’s nursing homes could qualify under that metric.
New York State Health Facilities Association President & CEO Stephen Hanse said the 28-day requirement is tough for nursing homes with large staffs.
“We’re not sure where we’re going in the future, in terms of a second potential uptick in COVID-19,” he said. “We really need to provide families the opportunity to visit with their loved ones in person.”
New York’s rules are aimed at curbing the spread of the virus by visitors, particularly those without symptoms: Visitors face temperature checks and must wear face masks and abide by social distancing. Residents can only have two visitors at a time, no more than 10% of residents can have visitors at any one time, and the state’s rules limit visitation to outdoor areas, weather permitting.
Northwell Health spokesperson Barbara Osborn said the health care system plans to allow outside-only visits starting Monday at its two nursing homes on Long Island. She said both facilities have been COVID-free for 28 days, and that the system plans to submit its plans to the state this week.