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Gov. DeSantis says Florida is loosening nursing home visitation restrictions

The governor outlined updates the Division of Emergency Management has adopted under his new order.
Credit: 10 Tampa Bay

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Governor Ron DeSantis has ordered the Division of Emergency Management to update its policy regarding nursing homes and long-term care facility visitation during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

During a roundtable discussing long-term care facilities and nursing homes, the governor outlined the updates in his order, which took effect Oct. 22. They include:

  • Removing the prohibition on children visitation
  • Allowing for outdoor visitation regardless of any positive COVID-19 cases at the facility
  • Removing the requirement for social distancing for compassionate caregivers
  • Removing the maximum of five visitors and allowing a facility to make its own limitations for numbers of visitors
    • General visitors are still only allowed if the facility has not had a positive COVID-19 case in at least 14 days
      • General visitors applies to anyone visiting who is not visiting a family member in hospice care or other "end-of-life" situation, or is a palliative or compassionate caregiver or certain attorneys and government employees
  • Barbershops and salons inside the facility are allowed to reopen if there has not been a positive COVID-19 case in at least 14 days

"What we're trying to do with this is empower the residents, the families and the facilities to be able to make good decisions," Gov. DeSantis said.

He highlighted the rapid COVID-19 antigen tests as one of the new tools at the disposal of nursing homes and long-term care facilities, as well as other "senior-dominated" communities, such as The Villages. While DeSantis stressed there is no state-mandated requirement for nursing homes and long-term care facilities to test visitors, he encouraged facilities to take advantage of the state-provided rapid COVID-19 tests for those facilities.

Early in the pandemic, visitation was prohibited in nursing homes and long-term care facilities in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent outbreaks. In August, DeSantis began meeting with state leaders to discuss visitation in those facilities; and by September, the state revised its emergency order to allow for visitation at long-term care facilities with restrictions. 

"Without visitation, I think the stories [of long-term care residents] are very heartbreaking, cause people were struggling, and they were struggling in ways I think we had a duty to mitigate," DeSantis said. 

"And so what I think we've seen since [allowing some visitation in nursing homes] is relief from a lot of the families and I think a lot of great, heartwarming stories about people who have been reunited with their loved ones. And so we want to continue moving forward for that."

Read the revised order here.

You can find all of the governor's emergency orders regarding COVID-19 here, including the Division of Emergency Management orders.

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