Nursing homes in Connecticut are beginning to allow some residents to meet with loved ones, months after Gov. Ned Lamont imposed a ban on most visits to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities have been particularly hard hit during the pandemic since older people are among the most vulnerable to the virus — but limiting visits was hard on residents and families.
“We know that the social and emotional connection is incredibly important,” said Connecticut Long Term Care Ombudsman Mairead Painter, during a Facebook chat with families this week.
Figures released Thursday show there have been a total of 2,648 confirmed or probable deaths associated with the virus at nursing homes and 349 confirmed or probable deaths at assisted living facilities in Connecticut. Combined, those deaths make up more than 72% of the state’s total 4,146 COVID-19 deaths, as of Thursday.
The state Department of Public Health this week issued new guidelines that allow nursing home residents who have tested negative for COVID-19 and have not been exposed to the coronavirus to meet outdoors with a limited number of people. Those visitors must be screened by the staff and sit at least 6 feet apart.
Both the residents and the visitors must wear face coverings and the number of overall visitors must be limited at a facility. Masks and hand sanitizer must also be available.
Painter said she is hopeful that the state’s infection rate will continue to trend downward and ultimately subside, “but that doesn’t mean we totally let our guard down.” It’s unclear when regular visitations at nursing homes will be allowed.
“We want to make sure we’re mindful and prepare for the fall and make sure people are protected, but they also have access,” she said.