Nursing Home Visitation – COVID-19 (QSO 20-39, REVISED 3/10/2021)

Yesterday- CMS, in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), updated visitation guidance with emphasis on the importance of maintaining infection prevention practices, given the continued risk of COVID-19 transmission. The new guidance includes the impact of COVID-19 vaccination. DHSS will be updating its guidance as well and it will be consistent with the CMS guidance. Facilities certified for Medicare and Medicaid are required to follow the CMS memo. All long-term care communities (SNF, ICF, ALF and ICF) may utilize the CMS guidance until the DHSS guidance is updated. CMS hosted a Stakeholder Discussion today regarding the new guidance. A transcript of the session will be uploaded to CMS’ website on 3/12/20 at:

Key Changes include:

  • Facilities should allow indoor visitation at all times and for all residents (regardless of vaccination status), except for a few circumstances when visitation should be limited due to a high risk of COVID-19 transmission (note: compassionate care visits should be permitted at all times).
  • CMS and CDC continues to recommend facilities, residents, and families adhere to the core principles of COVID-19 infection, including physical distancing (maintaining at least 6 feet between people). This continues to be the safest way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, particularly if either party has not been fully vaccinated. However, they acknowledge the toll that separation and isolation has taken. They also acknowledge that there is no substitute for physical contact, such as the warm embrace between a resident and their loved one. Therefore, if the resident is fully vaccinated, they can choose to have close contact (including touch) with their visitor while wearing a well-fitting face mask and performing hand-hygiene before and after. Regardless, visitors should physically distance from other residents and staff in the facility.
  • Provides guidance to describe how visitation can still occur when there is an outbreak, but there is evidence that the transmission of COVID-19 is contained to a single area (e.g., unit) of the facility.
  • Notes that compassionate care visits and visits required under federal disability rights law should be allowed at all times, for any resident (vaccinated or unvaccinated).
  • States that while visitor testing and vaccination can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, visitors should not be required to be tested or vaccinated (or show proof of such) as a condition of visitation.

Updated Healthcare Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations in Response to COVID-19 Vaccination

CDC has released new guidance, related to vaccinated individuals and the need to quarantine in LTCF. The Updated Healthcare Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations in Response to COVID-19 Vaccination guidance can be used by LTCF. In using this guidance, long-term care communities should carefully think about how they will determine if the person has had prolonged close contact with someone who was positive.

“Quarantine is no longer recommended for residents who are being admitted to a post-acute care facility if they are fully vaccinated and have not had prolonged close contact with someone with SARS-CoV-2 infection in the prior 14 days.”

 The revised guidance is attached.