Fourteen weeks after asking nursing homes and other senior long-term care facilities to prohibit all outside visitors and non-essential health personnel, Governor Hutchinson is lifting the non-visitor restrictions.
Beginning July 1, people can visit friends and family in long-term care facilities as long as they and the facility’s staff comply with the public health guidelines of the Arkansas Department of Health.
“This is an important step. The residents of nursing homes have been cut off from direct visits with family and friends for three months. This isolation is very difficult on our loved ones, and because of our testing and other measures in place, we are ready to have visitors again,” Gov. Hutchinson said in a statement.
General requirements for visitation include:
• Visitors must participate in and pass the facility’s screening process prior to each visit.
• The facility screening process must include a screening questionnaire, which will record the identity of the resident visited, date, name, address and phone number of the visitor and maintain these records so that they can be made available upon request by the Department of Health and the Office of Long Term Care. The questionnaire will also include a declaration regarding signs and symptoms of infection, contact and/or exposure to known COVID-19 positive persons, and any prior testing for COVID-19, as well as a statement that the visitor will inform the facility immediately if they develop symptoms within 72 hours of visiting or test positive for COVID-19 after visiting.
• Visitors must not have signs or symptoms of COVID-19 for at least three days. If any visitor previously tested positive for COVID-19, they must not visit within 14 days of a positive test.
• Visitors must wear a mask at all times.
• Visitors must sanitize hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or by handwashing with soap and water when entering and exiting.
• Visitors cannot eat during the visit.
• Visitors must schedule visits in advance.
• Visitation will only be allowed during select hours of each day.
• Visitation will be limited to two visitors per one resident at a time.
• The facility must monitor all visits carefully to ensure that masks are worn and visitation policies are followed.
• All visitors will be provided the opportunity to visit according to the number of positive cases, and the length of visits will be subject to these requirements and depend upon overall demand.
• Visitation will not be allowed for residents considered to be infectious for COVID-19, which is the period of 14 days after the first positive test.
The reopening process encourages visitation to include outdoor family visitation at long-term care and assisted living facilities, as recent data show that the risks of transmission are lower in outdoor settings. Facilities should establish visitor areas that are protected from weather elements.
Arkansas has tested over 19,000 of nursing home residents and staff with only 150 positive cases.
“This indicates we are doing a good job of protecting some of our most vulnerable Arkansans.”
According to Gov. Hutchinson, many of the states’ nursing homes are entirely free of COVID-19 and Arkansas’s rate of positive cases is less than half the national average.
Logan County saw an increase in cases for the third week from 19 positive cases, seven active cases, twelve recovered cases and 691 negative cases last Monday to 28 positive cases, twelve active cases, sixteen recovered cases and 1,141 negative cases on Monday.