Indoor visitations will resume Friday at nursing homes in New York. 

State officials on Monday released new indoor visitation guidance for providers that lays out how facilities can let more guests in. Current guidance allows nursing homes in the state to have visitors only if they haven’t had a positive case of COVID-19 within 14 days.

The new standards rely on the county’s COVID positivity rates to determine visitation and testing requirements for visitors. No testing will be required for guests visiting nursing homes in counties with a less than 5% positivity rate, though testing is suggested. 

Nursing home visitors in counties that have a 5% to 10% rate should be tested within 72 hours, and the testing can either be through a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or a BinaxnNOW rapid test. No indoor visitation will be allowed in counties with a greater than 10% rate, except for compassionate care cases, under the guidance. 

State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker also explained that visitors won’t need to be tested if they’ve had their two COVID-19 vaccine shots and it’s been at least 14 days since their second dose. 

“However, we encourage testing anyway at the site and the reason I say that is because you can still have it in your nasal passages. So, it’s beneficial to be tested to be sure that you don’t have it in your nasal passage,” he said during a conference call on Monday. 

Additionally, only 20% of residents can have visitors at one time under the guidance.

‘Sweeping reform’ 

New York state officials on Monday also announced “sweeping nursing home reform legislation” aimed at holding nursing home operators accountable for misconduct.

Civil monetary penalties for providers found in violation of the state’s Public Health Law will increase to $25,000 under the proposal by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). Nursing homes would also be required to spend a minimum of 70% of revenue on direct patient care and at least 40% on resident staffing. 

The reform measures also would require nursing homes to annually post their rates for each payer source on a public website and ownership information for all facilities. 

Cuomo (D) first detailed the reform plans last week.