NEW JERSEY — Pediatric, as well as developmentally and intellectually disabled, residents of long-term care facilities in New Jersey will soon be permitted to visit with loved ones indoors.
Gov. Phil Murphy and State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said Wednesday during the state’s coronavirus press briefing that said appointments will only be possible under a thorough set of guidelines, which will be released later Wednesday.
“Any resident in a congregate setting, as you know is a very high risk for COVID-19, and great vigilance must be taken to protect these vulnerable individuals,” said Persichilli Wednesday afternoon. “Yes, we do understand how stressful and heartbreaking it has been for so many families ... reuniting families, particularly in pediatric long-term care facilities, is a critical step for the mental, physical, social and emotional well-being of these children. But we need to be vigilant given how medically fragile the pediatric population that resides in long-term care facilities are.”
According to the New Jersey Department of Health dashboard, there have been 6,775 coronavirus-linked deaths at long-term care facilities in the Garden State since the pandemic began to worsen in March, with a total of 566 facilities reporting outbreaks (432 of which are active).
Murphy reported 396 new COVID-19 cases and 27 additional deaths as of Wednesday, for totals of 176,278 cases and 15,634 deaths (1,974 of which are probable). Persichilli said 17 of the new deaths announced were from July.
Hospital numbers ticked slightly up since earlier in the week: 923 patients being treated, 151 in intensive or critical care and 78 requiring ventilators. The positivity rate remains below 1.0 at .93.
Outdoor visits at long-term care facilities were given the OK back in June on Father’s Day. Wednesday’s announcement solely applies to parents and/or legal guardians.
“[This] would allow for indoor visitation to facilities which have had a zero new probable or confirmed coronavirus cases recorded in a 28-day period,” Murphy added.
Hours and days will be set for visits, and anyone on their way to an LCF must have a mask on and prepare to socially-distance.
Persichilli outlined some measures the state plans to put into place:
- Visitors must be screened for symptoms, which includes temperature checks and potential exposure to COVID-19.
- A designated area should be established for visitors to be screened that maintains social distancing and infection control standards.
- If an individual has any COVID-19 symptoms, or any possible exposure, they will not be permitted to visit the resident.
- When staff is transporting the resident to a designated visitation area, a safe distance of six feet must be maintained between other residents and staff.
- Facilities must designate a specific area for visitation in order to limit the visitors' movement around the facility.
- All visitors will be required to wear a mask, be educated on proper hand-hygiene, and practice social distancing with anyone other than their loved one.
- Facilities are required to obtain informed consent from the resident and the visitor in writing. Those giving consent must acknowledge that they are aware of the potential dangers of COVID-19 exposure and will comply with the facility's policies during the visit.
- As part of the consent form, the visitor must agree to notify the facility if they tested positive for the virus or have symptoms within 14 days of visiting the long-term care facility.
- Facilities must submit an attestation that they have implemented the requirements.
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