DENVER — Colorado officials have finalized guidelines that will allow for indoor visitation to nursing homes and other residential-care facilities, where visits have been mostly restricted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The guidelines will expand visitation opportunities, allowing for indoor visitation from family and friends of residents, with several precautions and restrictions still in place.
Since early in the COVID-19 outbreak, visitation at nursing homes and similar facilities has been limited to end-of-life situations and outdoor environments.
"We believe indoor visitation protocols are reasonably safe," Gov. Jared Polis said in a news conference last week.
Go here for the full guidelines for indoor visitation.
For indoor visitation to nursing homes, six criteria would need to be met:
• The facility must be in a county that has less than or equal to an average of 25 new, active COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over the prior two weeks.
If the county has 25-175 new cases per 100,000, visitors, who will be limited to those 18 and older, must have documentation of a negative COVID-19 test in the previous 24 hours before a visit. The test must be a standard polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test, though Polis has said that saliva testing, when validated in Colorado, will be acceptable.
• The facility must have conducted or arranged for at least one round of testing of all staff and residents who have left the facility within the preceding 14 days.
• For surveillance testing, a facility must follow certain protocols, including testing all staff and any residents who have left the facility within the preceding 14 days, based on the county positivity rate reported in the past week.
• The facility must not have a current COVID-19 outbreak. The CDPHE defines an outbreak as two or more cases among people at a facility. New residents must be placed in a private room for 14 days for observation of COVID-19 symptoms.
• Facilities must have a 14-day supply of personal protective equipment, or PPE, to be able to respond to an outbreak.
• Facilities must have adequate staffing without having to use contingency staffing.
Senior-living facilities have been hotspots for COVID-19 outbreaks in Colorado, and across the country. Of the 561 outbreaks reported by the state, 205 have been at residential healthcare facilities, many of those being senior-living or nursing homes, according to the latest state outbreak data.