As the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on Wednesday, citing 118,000 cases and 4,291 deaths in 114 countries, several states have imposed new rules on assisted living communities and skilled nursing facilities to prevent or control the spread of the disease.
Also Wednesday, AMDA–The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine announced plans to move its annual conference, originally set for April 2 to 5 in Chicago, to a virtual event on the same days. “The program will include a just-added session — COVID-19 in PALTC Settings — to provide the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak geared to PALTC providers,” AMDA said in the announcement.
The American College of Health Care Administrators, meanwhile, said Wednesday that it still plans to hold its annual meeting in New Orleans May 3 to 6 but has extended the “early bird” registration until March 31.
In the United States, CNN said cases have surpassed 1,200, and 31 people have died from COVID-19.
Here’s a look at what some state governors and health officials recently have announced:
Arizona: Gov. Doug Ducey declared a public health emergency and issued an executive order Wednesday that among other things requires symptom checks of workers and visitors to assisted living communities and skilled nursing facilities, mandates that operators set up disinfectant schedules for frequently touched surfaces, and requires that providers distance residents displaying symptoms from others.
Arkansas: The Department of Health issued a directive Monday that assisted living communities and nursing homes screen staff members and visitors by asking whether they have traveled internationally in the past two weeks and whether they have had contact with anyone infected with or under investigation for the novel coronavirus, and by looking for signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as cough, sore throat and fever by taking temperatures. Those with temperatures higher than 100.4 degrees F will not be permitted to enter buildings.
California: The Sacramento County health director said Tuesday that all residents of the Carlton Senior Living community in Elk Grove, CA, will be tested for the disease after a resident in her 90s with COVID-19 died while in the hospital. It was the first novel coronavirus-related death in the county. Carlton posted a message on its website indicating the steps it is taking.
Colorado: Gov. Jared Polis on Wednesday instructed the state Department of Public Health and the Environment and the Colorado Department of Human Services to “engage in emergency rulemaking to limit visitation to facilities that serve older Coloradans, to screen all employees and visitors to these facilities, and to take necessary steps to protect those in these facilities.” The order came one day after he declared a state of emergency in response to the disease.
Florida: Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday evening announced that certain people will be prohibited from visiting assisted living communities, nursing homes and other long-term care settings, according to WFLA. The restrictions apply to anyone who recently has tested positive for coronavirus or is showing signs of a respiratory infection, those who have traveled internationally or on a cruise ship within the past two weeks, and those who recently have been around someone with COVID-19.
Kentucky: Gov. Andy Beshear recommended Tuesday that long-term care facilities limit visitors to family members of those receiving end-of-life care. Visitors will have their temperatures taken upon entering a building. Those with temperatures above 100 degrees F, those who have traveled internationally and those who have signs of the disease will not be permitted to enter.
Louisiana: An 84-year-old resident of Lambeth House, an independent and assisted living community in New Orleans, was hospitalized Friday and now has tested positive for COVID-19, the operator said Wednesday. Gov. John Bel Edwards announced two additional cases at the senior living community during a press conference Wednesday night, WWLTV reported.
Maryland: Gov. Larry Hogan issued new guidance for assisted living communities and other long-term care facilities on Tuesday. He recommended restricting access to essential visitors only, screening people entering buildings and restricting entry for those with respiratory symptoms or possible exposure to COVID-19. Additionally, he recommended that operators require all those entering a building to wash their hands at entry, establish processes to allow remote communication for residents and others, and prohibit all staff members from international travel. A new Maryland Coronavirus Response Team met Tuesday for the first time; members include John Loome, M.D., senior vice president for medical affairs and a geriatrician at Genesis Healthcare.
New Mexico: The state Department of Health on Tuesday began deploying its healthcare survey team to conduct onsite visits of the 269 licensed assisted living communities statewide. State survey staff members will focus on providing COVID-19-related infection control guidance and written visitor protocols as well as addressing staff, family and resident questions or concerns. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham declared a public health emergency on Wednesday.
New York: An employee at Peconic Landing, a retirement community in Greenport, NY, has tested positive for COVID-19, the Suffolk Times reported Tuesday. Staff members have been looking more closely at residents’ health and have suspended large-group events, according to the publication. Gov. Andrew Cuomo previously asked long-term care facilities in the New Rochelle area to suspend visitation due to the high number of cases in the area.
North Carolina: Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency on Tuesday and recommended limiting visitors to assisted living communities and nursing homes.
Ohio: Gov. Mike DeWine said at a Wednesday press conference that the state will issue rules affecting nursing homes and assisted living. Only one visitor per day will be allowed. Buildings must implement a single point of entry, and facilities must set up visitor logs if they haven’t done so already; everyone entering must sign in. Staff members and vendors must have their temperatures taken and health assessed upon entering buildings.
Oregon: Gov. Kate Brown on Tuesday issued an executive letter restricting visitation at assisted living communities and skilled nursing facilities to essential individuals only; limiting essential visitors to two per resident at a time; requiring documented screening of all permitted visitors; and limiting community outings but supporting residents’ access to socialization when visitors are not able to enter the facility, through virtual visits.
Washington: Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday declared a state of emergency and said assisted living community and nursing home residents are allowed only one visitor per day, and all visits must occur in resident rooms. All visitors must follow COVID-19 screening and “reasonable precautionary measures.” The restrictions are in place until April 9.