CEDARVILLE — Ursel McElroy, director of the Ohio Department of Aging, announced Ohio nursing homes will be allowed to reopen for indoor visitation beginning Oct. 12, nearly seven months after those facilities were closed to residents' loved ones due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We've been waiting for this day," McElroy said during a Thursday briefing on the state's coronavirus response, while cautioning the reopening "does not signal that we can be less cautious.
"What it means is that each of us needs to be even more vigilant in practicing the basic yet critical practices: wash your hands; wear a mask; keep your distance; limit your visiting time; but most of all, stay home if you feel you've been exposed or are becoming ill."
Under the state's new guidance for indoor visitation, facilities will be expected to determine their level of readiness to offer indoor visitation, and consider:
- The level of coronavirus transmission in their communities and inside their facilities
- Whether they have adequate staffing to care for residents will conducting safe visits
- Their access to testing and whether they're otherwise compliant with state virus testing guidelines
- Whether they have access to enough PPE
- Whether their community has enough hospital capacity to accommodate a new outbreak of COVID-19
At the minimum, indoor visitors will be required to be screened before entering and must wear masks provided by the nursing facility.
Only two visitors will be allowed at once. Visits must be scheduled in advance and may last no longer than 30 minutes.
The state expects facilities not to restrict indoor visitation without "a reasonable or safety cause," McElroy said.
When indoor visitation resumes Oct. 12, the state intends to release an online dashboard with information visitors need to know.
Simultaneously, Jeffrey Davis, director of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, said indoor visitation at intermediate care facilities is set to resume Monday, Sept. 28.
"We also understand ... that human contact is so very important and so essential," he said.