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State health department allowing visitors at nursing homes again

New guidance from CDPHE allows visitors while minimizing the potential spread of COVID-19.

DENVER — New guidance from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) will allow outdoor visitations to begin at residential care facilities once again.

The state said it decided to implement this guidance now because of the low disease rates in the state. Only outdoor visitations are allowed at this time to minimize the potential spread of COVID-19, the health department added. 

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“We know that these restrictions - and the resulting isolation - have been hard on the residents in these facilities,” said Randy Kuykendall, director of the health facilities and EMS division at CDPHE. “But we know the restrictions, while hard, helped minimize the impact of outbreaks. Because of the success of our collaborations between state and local health departments and residential care facilities in the state, we are pleased to offer some safe ways for residents to receive visitors.”

Confirmed cases and deaths in senior and healthcare facilities like nursing homes have steadily decreased since April.

According to the state's guidance, facilities cannot host outdoor visitations if they have had any recent positive cases or outbreaks, have not completed the required isolation period of 14 days since their last positive case or are located in a community under a stay-at-home order. 

CDPHE asked for feedback from the public and then used that to finalize the new guidelines that include: 

  • All visits must be scheduled and facilities must provide visitors with information about COVID-19 and instructions for self-screening on the day of the visit that includes social distancing and mask-wearing.
  • A visitor must be greeted outside at a facility's designated area and receive a temperature check and symptom screening by a staff member in accordance with current CDC guidelines. 
  • Visitors with symptoms in the previous 14 days will not be allowed visitation. Residents who are in isolation or quarantine related to COVID-19 or have symptoms related to COVID-19 may not participate in outdoor visitation.
  • No more than eight people to a visit and visitors must supply name and contact information to facilities for contact tracing. 
  • Furniture should be cleaned and disinfected between visits and each facility must document their outdoor visitation policies and add it to their isolation plan.  

The state health department said that if it receives data showing an increase in cases or that visitations are no longer safe, they may amend the outdoor visitation guidelines.  

This new guidance applies to outdoor visitation and does not address compassionate care visits, such as end-of-life situations. Following CDC guidance, compassionate care visits have been allowed on a case-by-case basis and should include careful symptom screening to prevent transmission of COVID-19. 

Zack Newman, 9Wants to Know investigative data producer, contributed to this report.

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