DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik

Delaware will begin reviewing proposed plans from eligible assisted living communities and nursing homes to begin reopening for indoor visitation.

Beginning today, long-term care facilities that have no new COVID-19 cases within the last 14 days and have adequate staffing and personal protection equipment are eligible to submit a plan for resuming indoor visitation.

The Department of Health and Social Services in June invited long-term care facilities with low rates of COVID-19 cases to submit plans for outdoor visitation. As of Sept. 2, plans from 26 assisted living communities and nursing homes were approved by DHSS’ Division of Health Care Quality.

The state’s reopening plan for long-term care facilities provides three stages of reopening with varying requirements. Stage 1 has the “highest level of vigilance” due to the onset of the virus in a facility within the last 14 days. Stage 2 means there has been no onset of the virus within the last 14 days and adequate staffing, and Stage 3 means no onset of the virus within the last 28 days.   

Facilities granted approval for indoor visitation must follow strict requirements, including limiting visits to two people per resident, creating a visitation room near an entrance, requiring appointments, screening visitors and requiring face masks and social distancing.

Visitor testing is “strongly encouraged” but will be at the discretion of each facility. Facilities will make families aware of scheduling opportunities as visitation plans are approved.

“We know that families and close friends of residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities have been eager to see their loved ones indoors again,” DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik said. “We are pleased that our Division of Health Care Quality and Division of Public Health will be working with eligible long-term care facilities across the state to provide this opportunity for indoor visitation.”

Families also are able to designate a “support person” to provide companionship and assist residents at assisted living communities, skilled and intermediate nursing facilities and rest residential facilities with activities of daily living. The support person should be a family member or outside caregiver who provided regular care and support to the resident before the pandemic. Individuals are required to provide a negative coronavirus test and are subject to regular testing, and they are required to wear personal protective equipment.

In other coronavirus-related news:

  • New York Assemblyman Brian Manktelow (R-Lyons) and Assemblyman Jake Ashby (R-Castleton) called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to lift restrictions on assisted living communities and nursing homes as COVID-19 cases in the state remain low. Manktelow held a press conference, inviting family members to speak about their inability to visit loved ones.  
  • The Ohio House of Representatives took up HB606, the state’s “Good Samaritan Expansion Bill,” that would extend civil immunity to long-term care providers and employers acting during the coronavirus public health emergency. The bill previously passed the House and was amended in the Senate before returning to the House, which accepted the Conference Committee report. The Senate is expected to accept the conference committee report before the bill is delivered to Gov. Mike DeWine for his signature.