CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said the state is loosening the COVID-19 restrictions when it comes to visitations to nursing homes.
Nursing home visits have been forbidden in Ohio since March 12th. Almost four months later, on July 20th, family and friends will be allowed to visit loved ones in nursing homes again.
Governor Mike Dewine said it was not an easy decision to make because on one hand we know that the people inside nursing homes are the most vulnerable to this virus but on the other hand; none of them have seen their loved ones for months.
“We are now a number of months into this which simply means that there are a lot of people who have been locked up and cannot have visits from their family,” explained Governor Mike DeWine.
The governor said visitations to nursing homes can begin to take place again beginning July 20, but only outdoors.
Nursing homes should consider several factors when deciding if outdoor visits could be safely allowed:
- Case status in community
- Case status in nursing home
- Staffing levels
- Access to adequate testing for residents and staff
- Personal protective equipment supplies
- Hospital capacity
“We are confident that our approach provides each facility the flexibility needed to assess their readiness to safely facilitate outdoor visitation and to do so in a transparent way that keeps residents and families informed,” the governor stated on Monday.
“Once testing is done in the nursing home and if they don’t have the virus in the nursing home then visitation can take place outside, it’s summer,” said DeWine. “Weather’s good enough that people can be outside and we know that the spread outside is dramatically different than it is inside.”
Nursing homes account for about 70 percent of Ohio’s coronavirus deaths, leading many to wonder, is it safe to start visitation again?
“These are tough tough decisions,” Governor DeWine said. “On the one hand you do not want to introduce the virus into the nursing home, but on the other hand I know Ursel has told me the number of people she’s talked to, I talked to some, she’s talked to a lot more who just say that their loved one is going downhill in the nursing home. Some have dementia. It’s difficult to explain to them why their son or daughter isn’t coming, they’re not showing up. They don’t really fully understand because of the dementia so these are very difficult things and so what we’ve outlined is a very thoughtful process and I think virtually every group has looked at.”
Outdoor visitations to assisted living facilities were permitted to reopen on June 8.
Gov. DeWine did not indicate when inside visitations may be able to resume.