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When will restrictions be loosened at nursing homes across New York?

Family members of nursing home residents rallied outside the Capitol Building in Albany on Wednesday.

They chanted “Let us in,” in response to continued state-issued restrictions on nursing home visitations.

“It’s frustrating, very frustrating. We’re just watching her slowly deteriorating in front of our eyes,” Bert Helmer said about his 93-year-old sister Irene, speaking with Spectrum News. “There’s nothing we can do about it and I know she wouldn’t deteriorate like this if we could have continued to go and see her.”

DiSanto Propane (Billboard)

New York State has issued guidance, which forces any nursing home or rehabilitation facility to wait 14 days to allow visitors once a positive test is received.

The standard applies to residents and employees alike.

Stephen Hanse, who is the president of the New York State Health Facilities Association, says the guidance from the state is simply too stringent.

Officials speaking for Governor Andrew Cuomo have said that the reduction from 28 days wait time to 14 days was an accommodation to those who feel like the state’s policies were too stringent. They also contend that the state has, and will continue, “to follow the science.”

Advocates say they would like to see a regional approach taken, especially while case numbers remain low in some communities.

“So while we have a small window for our residents to see their loved ones we should take advantage of it,” Hanse explained to Spectrum News. “And we should utilize policies that truly safeguard the health and well-being of our residents but aren’t so restrictive that they truly lose their zest for life.”

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Gary Holmes was one of those spokespeople for the state Health Department, who defended the process.

“This pandemic is not over. The Department continues to assist facilities statewide that are currently managing COVID-19 clusters. Our decisions will continue to be driven by data and science, and now is not the time for anybody to let their guard down,” Holmes told Spectrum.