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White House releases guidance on reopening nursing homes

White House releases guidance on reopening nursing homes
Posted at 4:26 PM, May 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 16:30:31-04

Across the country, for the most part, family members have been unable to visit their loved one in a long-term care facility for months amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

As the country gradually reopens, that includes nursing homes. However, per White House guidelines, nursing home facilities should be among the last in the country to reopen their doors to visitors.

"I think people are desperate to be reunited with their loved ones," said Seema Verma, administrator for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Verma says the guidelines released by the Trump Administration call for a phased approach to reopening.

The guidelines call for testing in every facility before visitors can visit a loved one. That includes testing of all staff and residents. Verma wants the tests to be done weekly for all staff.

"We are asking for nursing homes to work with their local and state officials to do a baseline of testing," Verma said.

Testing, however, has been an issue throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. E.W. Scripps Washington Correspondent Joe St. George asked Verma what she is doing to ensure nursing homes have access to tests.

"We feel very comfortable that the nation is prepared to do that testing of our nursing homes," Verma said.

Verma says state and local officials will need to work with nursing homes in their state to fiigure out what their testing plan will look like.

Other requirements for nursing homes to reopen include proper access to personal protective equipment (PPE).

The White House says nursing homes hit hard by the virus should be inspected by the state before reopening, while also saying they should be among the last to reopen in their community.

Face coverings for all visitors inside the facilities are recommended.

As for a timeline? Verma said it depends on the individual community.

"It's going to depend on the situation on the ground. It could be anywhere between a month to six weeks," Verma said.

Global Coronavirus Tracker:

See map here
Data from The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.