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Michigan nursing homes allowed to offer indoor visitation again

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Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 11:06 AM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Nursing homes in Michigan can begin offering indoor visits for the first time in six months under a new order issued Wednesday.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services revised an order spelling out requirements for nursing homes to offer visits indoors. While outdoor visits can continue statewide, indoor visits are allowed in all counties except those at risk level E on the MI Safe Start Map.

The Upper Peninsula currently is at that risk level, which includes areas with 150 or more cases per million people every day or a positive coronavirus test rate of 20% or higher. Indoor visits also are not allowed at nursing homes which have reported a confirmed COVID-19 case within 14 days.

Local health departments around the state can impose additional limits on indoor nursing home visits in their jurisdictions.

“As we grapple with both colder weather and rising cases, our task is to increase access to visitation in ways that do not increase the spread of the virus,” said Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon. “Visitation is a substantial source of risk.  This order provides a plan for visitation that mitigates risk and continues necessary protections in facilities across the state.”

Nursing homes must approve visits in advance. Anyone participating in an indoor nursing home visit is required to wear a face mask and any other personal protective equipment that the facility mandates.

Visitors can be excluded if they refuse to wear a face covering or follow guidelines from the nursing home.

Nursing homes also can require visitors to undergo a coronavirus test in advance and must check for symptoms of the illness before they come indoors. Visits must be logged and visitors must sign a document saying they promise to contact the nursing home if they develop COVID-19 symptoms or test positive for the illness later.

All visitors must maintain 6 feet of social distancing from residents at all times unless they are providing assistance with daily living or rendering personal services. Social distancing requirements also can be relaxed for patients who are nearing the end of life.

“This is a delicate balance of trying to prevent the further spread of the virus while still allowing for family members and friends to visit their loved ones in residential care facilities,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, who is Michigan’s chief medical executive. “I remain concerned about the increase in case levels across the state, so it will be vitally important that the order be followed closely in order to keep the facilities safe and prevent the spread of the virus.”

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