Washington state will rescind COVID-19 proclamations governing assisted living communities and other long-term care facilities Oct. 27 following federal easing of pandemic guidelines.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) last week rescinded 13 COVID-19 proclamations, effective this fall, stating that they no longer are necessary for pandemic response. Inslee said that recent advances in medicine, including COVID-19 boosters and antivirals, led to his decision.
Aug. 11, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its general COVID-19 guidance, loosening social distancing and isolation recommendations.
Inslee’s actions affect assisted living communities, adult family homes, nursing homes, intermediate care facilities and other congregate care settings. The rescinded proclamations restricted visitor access to assisted living communities and nursing homes and temporarily waived some licensing requirements for healthcare workers.
The Washington Health Care Association told McKnight’s Senior Living that it worked closely with the state to represent providers emerging from the public health crisis.
“During the 2022 legislative session, we worked to advance HB 1120, to provide additional time for providers to come into compliance with waived training, certification and fingerprinting requirements for their employees,” said WHCA Executive Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Elena Madrid. “We continue to work to ensure that providers have adequate notice and information to come back into compliance with laws and regulations that have been waived during the public health crisis.”
The state Department of Health and Department of Social and Health Services will help long-term care facilities transition out of the regulations.
DSHS and the state Nursing Commission entered an interagency agreement to meet demand to examine and certify nursing assistants by setting up mass examination sites. Because of federal waivers issued during the pandemic, a backlog exists of long-term care staff members who need to become certified in order to continue practicing, according to the state.
After these regulations no longer are in effect, approximately 87% of all COVID-19 emergency proclamations issued in the state will have been rescinded, according to the state. Inslee declared a state of emergency in spring 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic, limiting assisted living community and nursing home residents to only one visitor per day.