Having to live in a nursing home can be challenging enough. But the novel coronavirus pandemic has made everyday conditions even more difficult. Senior citizens are particularly vulnerable to becoming sick after being infected, and the fear of death is a constant worry.
So it’s been essential to ensure that residents of these facilities are protected to the greatest extent possible. For nearly four months, visits by outsiders have been prohibited per state mandate.
This has been done to prevent anyone carrying the coronavirus, even if they are asymptomatic, from infecting people at the nursing home. Infection can spread quickly among people living in close contact with each other, so this precaution makes sense.
However, knowing this doesn’t dull the pain of not being able to spend time with family members and friends. Some seniors have been fortunate enough to chat with loved ones by phone or on the internet. But this isn’t the same as being able to hug your parent, grandparent, child or grandchild.
The good news is that these facilities are going to be able to reopen to the public. Dr. Howard A. Zucker, commissioner of the state Department of Health, announced July 10 that nursing homes and long-term care facilities could start limited visitations.
The sites must have been free of the coronavirus for 28 days before they can allow outsiders to enter. People coming in must be given temperature checks, wear face masks and observe social distancing. No more than two visitors may come in at a time; at least one of these people must be 18 years of age or older.
Facilities are enforcing different rules. Some places only allow visitations outside, while others let people come in.
We urge residents to observe all safety protocols while visiting their loved ones in nursing facilities. But we rejoice with many others that this restriction has been loosened to some extent. It’s high time to start spreading joy rather than a virus.