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New York State drops ‘negative’ test requirement for visiting nursing homes

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

New York state health officials have announced that visitors to nursing homes will no longer need to present a negative COVID-19 test result to gain entry. This decision aligns with federal policies and aims to ease the process of visiting loved ones in these facilities. The state Department of Health made the announcement on Friday, adjusting the guidance for nursing homes throughout the state.

Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald explained that the priority remains to ensure safe visits for families. The new guidance is consistent with the policies of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and encourages the use of passive screening. This approach involves educating visitors and staff on COVID-19 signs and symptoms and placing instructional signage throughout the facilities.

Nursing homes and long-term care facilities faced significant challenges during the early stages of the pandemic, with their residents being particularly vulnerable to the virus. Health officials continue to emphasize the importance of adhering to passive screening measures, such as monitoring symptoms, wearing face masks when necessary, and practicing good hand hygiene.

In line with the updated guidance, nursing homes must display COVID health guidelines at entrances for visitors. DOH Deputy Commissioner for Aging and Long-Term Care Adam Herbst stated that the new guidance aims to improve the quality of life for aging New Yorkers by facilitating visits from family and friends while maintaining safety for residents and staff.