Texas to allow limited visitation in nursing homes with no active coronavirus cases

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For the first time in nearly five months, visitors will be allowed in Texas nursing homes on a limited basis, state health officials announced Thursday evening, reversing a policy intended to keep the state’s most vulnerable populations safe from a pandemic that has proved especially deadly for the elderly.

Residents of Texas’ long-term care facilities have been separated from their family and friends for more than 140 days, since Gov. Greg Abbott shut down visitation in mid-March.

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At long-term care facilities, some indoor visits will be permitted, provided there are plexiglass barriers, there are no active positive cases of the novel coronavirus among residents and no confirmed cases among staff in the last two weeks. Physical contact between residents and visitors will not be permitted, state officials said.

The restrictions are tighter on nursing facilities, which must test staff weekly and can offer only outdoor visits.

“This is a rapidly evolving situation and we are constantly assessing what actions are necessary to keep residents and staff safe in these facilities,” said Phil Wilson, the acting executive commissioner of Texas Health and Human Services Commission. “By following these procedures and rules, facilities can more effectively prevent the spread of COVID-19 and help us achieve our shared goal of reuniting residents with their families and friends.”

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