Led in large part by the advocacy of concerned family members, visitors will now be allowed into hospitals and group homes on a discretionary basis.
We want to acknowledge the many families who have been very vocal about their concern about being unable to see their loved ones. Among the strongest and most vocal leaders were MHANYS Vice-Chair and CEO of Northern Rivers Bill Gettman and his wife Joy Griffith. They and other families deserve a great deal of credit for their efforts on behalf of our entire community.
Coronavirus: NY to Allow Visitors to Hospitals and Group Homes, But Not Nursing Homes
David Robinson New York State Team June 16, 2020
ALBANY – Visitors will soon be allowed again at hospitals and group homes in New York after being banned for nearly three months during the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday.
The moves comes as New York continues to see lower hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus. A total of 25 deaths were reported statewide Monday due to the virus, the lowest daily total since mid-March.
The disease has killed more than 24,500 New Yorkers since March 1, according to the state Department of Health.
The new rules for visitors will include time limits on visitation, as well as requiring visitors to wear personal protective equipment and undergo temperature and COVID-19 symptom screening, according to Cuomo’s presentation during his daily press briefing in Albany.
“This was always a balance of public health versus the personal relationships,” Cuomo said, referring to people desperately wanting to visit loved ones in hospitals and group homes.
Hospitals will still be allowed to deny visitors at their own discretion. Group homes will begin allowing visitors on Friday, Cuomo said. Many other details were not immediately clear.
Meanwhile, it remains unclear when visitors will be allowed to return to nursing homes, which have been ravaged by more than 6,100 deaths connected to COVID-19.
Asked Tuesday about the reason for maintaining the visitor ban in nursing homes, Cuomo cited COVID-19’s heightened threat to the elderly and frail in nursing homes.
“We’re still studying it and there is still a high risk,” he said, adding the state Health Department will make the call on when and how to safely lift the ban.
Cuomo, a Democrat, has faced mounting pressure from relatives of nursing home and group home residents to allow visitors. Some family members have voiced concerns about being separated from loved ones in nursing homes amid questions about operators failing to protect them from the virus.
Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin, a Republican, urged Cuomo Tuesday on social media to allow outside visits to nursing homes with social distancing and personal protective equipment measures.
“People need to see their families,” he said on Twitter.
Earlier this month, Massachusetts began allowing visitors to nursing homes under strict conditions, and New Jersey state health officials announced they are working on similar plans to allow families to see loved ones inside nursing homes.
Massachusetts allows residents to see guests only outdoors. Other restrictions include having a staff member present at the visit, temperatures taken before admittance and a limit of two visitors.
Scott Fallon of NorthJersey.com contributed to this report.
David Robinson is the state health care reporter for the USA TODAY Network New York. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter:@DrobinsonLoHud