COVID-19 Q&A: COVID-19 and long-term-care facilities


Q: When will the state allow long-term care facilities to open up visitation?

A:  There are currently no state regulations limiting visitation in long-term care facilities. Nursing homes must follow the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) visitation guidance for nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. DHW has published similar visitation guidance and best practices for assisted living and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ICFs/IID) under the Long-Term-Care tab at coronavirus.idaho.gov

Actual visitation policies are set by each facility and may vary, depending on the circumstances. If a facility is not currently having an outbreak of COVID-19, then it will have more relaxed visitation policies in place. If there are cases of COVID-19 in a facility, then we would expect that facility to have restrictions in place until the outbreak has been closed. That could take at least 28 days, because an outbreak in a long-term care facility is considered resolved after 28 days without any new cases of COVID-19.  

If you have questions about visitation policies, you should direct them to the facility itself.

Q: When will the state allow long-term care facilities to let residents leave for visits at family members’ homes?

A: Please see the above answer. Facilities may have stricter guidelines for visitations off-site because it’s possible an off-site visit could result in an unintended exposure of a resident to an individual with COVID-19, especially with higher-risk activities, such as indoor gatherings with people from multiple households, and if the visitors are unvaccinated.

As above, the facilities will be best able to answer any questions about off-site visitation policies.

Q: Do we know how many residents and staff in long-term-care facilities have been vaccinated?

A: This is a question we get a lot. We know some information, but not enough to accurately show how many residents and staff have been vaccinated in total at Idaho’s 420 long-term-care facilities. We know how many residents and staff have been vaccinated in facilities that participated in the federal pharmacy partnership program, but we don’t have that information for facilities that were not part of the federal pharmacy partnership program.

The best thing for residents and their families to do is to ask the facility administration for that information. They should be willing to provide that number, as well as their strategy and policies for providing the COVID-19 vaccine for the residents and staff who want it.

Tamara Prisock is the administrator of the Division of Licensing and Certification in the Department of Health and Welfare. She is also a co-chair of the Long-Term-Care Strike Team, along with Dr. Marcia Witte.

Join us at 10 a.m. Wednesday on Facebook Live: DHW’s Tamara Prisock, administrator of the Division of Licensing and Certification and co-chair of the Long-Term-Care Strike Team, will answer questions about COVID-19 and long-term-care facilities.

To slow the spread of COVID-19 in Idaho, please continue to:

  • Wear face coverings  
  • Keep at least six feet between you and others
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Wash your hands often
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Disinfect surfaces and objects regularly

Resources

Stay up-to-date with the latest and most accurate information on COVID-19 at the following websites:

DHW also posts lots of information, including daily updates on the numbers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at healthandwelfare.idaho.gov.

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