Louisiana Will Open Nursing Homes For Visitation Under New Federal Guidelines

Sep 18, 2020

People with family members in Louisiana nursing homes will soon be able to visit their loved ones for the first time since March.

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the state will open nursing homes to visitors after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ended its ban on visitations Thursday.

“We will move quickly today to implement this new federal guidance,” Edwards said in a statement.

The Louisiana Department of Health had been preparing to issue its own plan allowing outdoor visitation this week, but those plans have now been dropped in favor of the federal guidelines. That means even more expanded visitation than the state had said it would allow.

Under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rules, all nursing homes can now offer outdoor visitation. Indoor visitation is also allowed for facilities that have had no new coronavirus cases over the previous 14 days, in parishes that have a coronavirus test positivity rate below 10 percent.

Last week, the governor had announced plans to allow only outdoor visitation focusing on parishes with a 5 percent positivity rate in coronavirus testing. And whereas the governor suggested that mitigation measures would be required — such as social distancing, mask-wearing and sanitation — the federal guidance only says the facilities should adhere to them.

The state plan would also have required facilities to opt in to the new rules. The federal regulations require that all nursing homes must allow visitation if they meet the thresholds above with only a few exceptions, including that the resident is COVID-19-positive.

Louisiana has counted more than 10,000 cases of the coronavirus and 2,225 deaths from COVID-19 in nursing homes, making up 43.4 percent of all coronavirus deaths in the state.