DeSantis lifting Florida’s coronavirus-related ban on visiting nursing homes

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday that he would lift the state’s ban on nursing home visits that has been in place since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March.

DeSantis said he would lift the ban later Tuesday following recommendations from a nursing home task force that has met in recent weeks.

The task force recommends families visit their loved ones two at a time and wear protective equipment including masks. Facilities would be required to go 14 days without any new COVID-19 cases among staff or residents to allow visits.

Around 62 percent of Florida facilities have not had a new coronavirus case since Aug. 11, according to Mary Mayhew, head of the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration, who led the task force.

On July 10, another similarly hard-hit state began allowing nursing home visits, but under stringent regulations. New York Gov. Andew Cuomo announced that nursing homes in his state could allow limited visitations if they went 28 days without a COVID-19 case.

Only 10% of residents at each facility could have visitors per day and only two people were allowed to visit a resident at a time. Staff and administrators at several senior living facilities urged the governor Tuesday to revisit the 28-day rule, saying the pandemic has made issues prevalent in nursing homes such as social isolation and loneliness worse.

Texas began allowing limited nursing home visits on Aug. 6, provided there were adequate barriers and no new cases within the last two weeks. Physical touch is still not permitted.

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In California, nursing home visits resumed in mid-July, but only one person at a time was permitted to visit provided there were no new virus cases in a facility in the last 14 days and the surrounding community was experiencing a decline in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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