AUSTIN – Some nursing home restrictions will be lifted Thursday as part of the latest phase of the governor’s reopening plan.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced the change to nursing home visitations, as well as other reopening measures, on Sept. 17, saying in part:
“With the medical advancements we have made and the personal hygiene practices we have adopted, Texans have shown that we can address both the health and safety concerns of COVID-19 while also taking careful, measured steps to restore the livelihoods that Texans depend on. Achieving both goals requires safe standards that contain COVID-19, emphasize protecting the most vulnerable, and establish clear metrics that the public can depend on. That is why today we have announced expanded occupancy standards for a variety of services. But, Texans should remember that a steady and significant decline in COVID-19 cases is not a sign to let up in our vigilance against the virus. Instead, Texans must continue to heed the guidance of medical experts by wearing a mask, social distancing, and practicing proper sanitation strategies. By maintaining health and safety standards that are proven to mitigate COVID-19, we can continue to slow the spread while opening up the Texas economy.”
The changes to the visitation policy for eligible nursing homes, assisted living facilities, intermediate care facilities, home and community-based service providers, and inpatient hospice go into effect Thursday.
According to Abbott, these are the new rules:
- Residents can designate “up to two essential family caregivers who will be provided necessary training to allow them to safely go inside a facility for a scheduled visit, including in the resident’s room, to help ensure their loved one’s physical, social, and emotional needs are being met.”
- Designated caregivers must be trained and wear PPE at all times during scheduled visits.
- Designated caregivers must have tested negative for COVID-19 within the previous 14 days before visiting.
- Only one caregiver can visit a resident at a time.
- General visitors are allowed to have no-contact, outdoor or indoor (with plexiglass safety barriers) visits with residents.
- Physical contact between residents and general visitors is not permitted.
- Facilities must continue to meet all additional visitation requirements outlined in the emergency rules in order to remain eligible.
Nursing homes in Victoria, Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley are not eligible to allow visitors because Abbott says hospitalization rates in those areas are still too high.