Despite End of State of Emergency, DHSS Guidance for Visitation at Delaware’s Long-Term Care Facilities Will Continue

With the end of the State of Emergency in Delaware on Tuesday, July 13, the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) is affirming that Delaware’s 86 long-term care facilities (LTCs) will continue to follow the state’s existing visitation and testing guidance in order to keep residents healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the State of Emergency ends, long-term care facilities – including nursing homes and assisted-living facilities – will still operate under Delaware’s COVID-19 Updated Reopening Plan in Long-Term Care Facilities. While visitation by loved ones is encouraged, the type of visitation that is allowed depends on each facility’s current status in terms of positive cases of COVID-19 among residents, the county’s overall COVID-19 positivity rate and the percentage of residents who are vaccinated. Visitors are encouraged to check with their loved one’s facility on the current visitation status before they arrive.

Delaware’s LTC reopening guidance is in alignment with visitation and testing requirements from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), both of which came in response to reductions in COVID-19 infections and transmission and increased vaccination rates in the LTC population. Consistent with CDC and CMS recommendations, Delaware’s guidance for visitors includes active screening for COVID-19 regardless of vaccination status, the use of face coverings or masks by unvaccinated visitors and by all in each facility’s common areas, social distancing, frequent handwashing or the use of hand sanitizer, and the signing of a visitor’s log among other core principles.

“Our highest priority is to ensure that residents of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities continue to be as safe as possible,” DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik. “While we are grateful for the reduction in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations among the residents of these long-term facilities and for the high rates of vaccination among residents, our staff from the Division of Health Care Quality and the Division of Public Health will continue to work with the leadership of long-term care facilities to make sure that they have strong screening, infection and isolation measures in place. In partnership with the long-term care facilities, we will do everything we can to continue to facilitate indoor visitation for residents and their family members or close friends, but that will depend on each facility’s status.”

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