SALEM, Ore. — Oregon officials announced on Wednesday that "limited" visits to long-term care facilities can begin on November 2. Nursing homes, assisted living, and residential care facilities have been largely restricted to visitors since the state went on lockdown in March, though outdoor visits were approved in July.
“As we have throughout this pandemic, when it comes to long-term care facility visitation, we will proceed carefully, to protect the residents who are most vulnerable to COVID-19,” said Governor Kate Brown. “With case counts rising, I have instructed the Department of Human Services to proceed with caution. However, it is my hope that families can now safely begin visiting the loved ones they have not been able to see for so many months.”
Beginning Monday, residents of a care facility can have up to two visitors at a time, meeting in an "approved" area.
The visits are open only to qualifying facilities. In order to qualify, a facility must have no current or suspected coronavirus cases, must follow DHS and federal guidance, and must be in a community with a "low or medium rate" of COVID-19 exposure. For facilities in higher-risk areas, visits are allowed in some limited circumstances — largely for end-of-life situations.
“We are grateful to everyone who collaborated to develop the safeguards to make this policy possible. Indoor visitation restrictions have been extremely painful for everyone to endure; I hope this change will provide relief to those who are suffering from being separated from family and friends,” said DHS director Fariborz Pakseresht.
The facilities themselves will need to stagger visits in order to limit the number of guests, setting time limits if needed; clean and disinfect surfaces frequently; provide health screenings and PPE for visitors; set up a dedicated visiting area; and keep a log of visitors.
“The indoor visitation policy has many layers to it that strike a balance between safety and the essential need for families and friends to connect," said Mike McCormick, interim director of the DHS Office of Aging and People with Disabilities. "We will continue to monitor outbreaks closely and will modify the policy if that is warranted. The impact of the pandemic is evolving, and we must be ready to continually adapt.”