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Ahead of Father’s Day, Maryland outlines protocol for safe outdoor visits with nursing home residents

Ahead of Father’s Day, Maryland health officials say some nursing home residents can see their family members in person — but only under certain circumstances.

The reunions could only take place outdoors, and with all participants wearing masks and observing social distancing rules. State officials said it is “strongly recommended” there be no more than two visitors per resident, per visit.

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And the visits are only possible at nursing homes with no active cases of coronavirus among residents and staff, no positive coronavirus tests within the past two weeks, and no staffing issues.

Visitors have been barred from Maryland’s 227 nursing homes since March 10, amid similar restrictions put in place across the country. In some cases, facilities have arranged for visits in which residents can see loved ones outside their windows, but otherwise access to nursing homes has been restricted.

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Going forward, health officials said that measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus among the vulnerable and hard-hit nursing home populations will continue “for the foreseeable future,” even as other aspects of the economy and society begin reopening.

Gov. Larry Hogan has ordered all nursing home staff be tested weekly for the coronavirus, now that the state has recently completed a round of universal testing of all residents and staff. Caregivers will continue to be required to wear extensive personal protective equipment, and staff and residents will continue to be screened routinely for symptoms associated with COVID-19.

More than 12,000 coronavirus infections have been linked to elder care facilities in Maryland, and the facilities account for more than 1,800 deaths, nearly two-thirds of all COVID-19 deaths in the state.

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