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You can visit your loved ones at nursing homes in Texas again

Texans have waited months to visit loved ones at the facilities. They've been off-limits due to the threat of spreading COVID-19 to those who are most at-risk.

AUSTIN, Texas — Family members who have waited for months to visit their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic will be happy to learn that as of Thursday, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission is allowing limited visitation for nursing facilities and long-term care facilities.

“Today’s announcement is a critical first step for every person in a long-term care facility and their loved ones,” Rep. James Frank said. “This decision underscores that state leaders recognize the need to balance the emotional and physical health impacts of isolation against the serious dangers that COVID poses to these vulnerable Texans.”

“Access to family and loved ones is an important part of every resident’s health and well-being, which is why this policy shift is a move in the right direction for some of our most fragile Texans,” Sen. Lois Kolkhorst said.

Here is a look at the new rules:

Nursing facilities

For the health and safety of facility residents and staff, public visitation is limited to outdoor visits only. Physical contact between residents and visitors is not permitted.

Additional conditions a facility must meet to conduct limited outdoor visitation include:

  • No confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in staff in the last 14 days.
  • No active positive cases in residents.
  • Any facility previously experiencing an outbreak that has fully recovered must be adequately staffed and following adequate infection control procedures.
  • The facility staff tested for COVID-19 weekly.

Long-term care facilities (except nursing facilities)

Limited indoor and outdoor visitation procedures are allowed. Physical contact between residents and visitors is not permitted.

Additional conditions a facility must meet to conduct limited visitation include:

  • No confirmed COVID-19 positive staff in the last 14 days.
  • No active positive cases in residents.
  • Adequate staffing to facilitate visitation in compliance with infection control requirements.
  • Use of Plexiglass as a safety barrier for indoor visitation to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Emergency rule enhancements

Also announced Thursday were enhanced emergency rules to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“This is a rapidly evolving situation and we are constantly assessing what actions are necessary to keep residents and staff safe in these facilities,” said Phil Wilson, executive commissioner, Texas HHSC. “By following these procedures and rules, facilities can more effectively prevent the spread of COVID-19 and help us achieve our shared goal of reuniting residents with their families and friends.”

Enhanced emergency rules for nursing facilities include:

  • Each facility must have a COVID-19 response plan that includes designated staff to work with cohorts of residents who have tested positive for COVID-19, and staff should not change the designation from one day to another unless required to maintain adequate staffing for a cohort.
  • All nursing facilities must screen all residents, staff, and people who come to the facility in accordance with specified criteria, and each resident must be screened at least three times a day for signs or symptoms of COVID-9.
  • Each facility must have plans for obtaining and maintaining a two-week supply of personal protective equipment and resident recovery plans for continuing care when a resident recovers from COVID-19.