DENVER — Colorado on Wednesday released proposed guidelines for indoor visitation at nursing homes and senior-living facilities, where visitors have been mostly restricted since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis.
The guidance 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," said Gov. Jared Polis, who on Wednesday gave an update on COVID-19 in Colorado at a news conference.
Polis said the state's COVID-19 numbers are in a good place, though he emphasized the need for continued precautions, including wearing masks in public.
The guidelines for indoor nursing home visitations will be open for public comment through Friday and the guidelines will be finalized this weekend, Polis said.
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 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 said Wednesday that saliva testing, when validated in Colorado, will be acceptable.
• The facility must have conducted at least two rounds of 100% baseline testing of all residents and staff, plus a second round of testing 10 days later. If a resident refuses the test, they'll need to remain free of COVID-19 symptoms for at least 28 days before a visit.
• The facility must conduct weekly COVID-19 testing for staff.
• 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.