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Oregon approves indoor visits of senior living facilities

The state allowed limited outdoor visits this summer and is expanding options as colder weather begins.

SALEM, Ore — Some licensed nursing, assisted living and residential care facilities will begin allowing limited indoor visitation for residents starting Monday, Nov. 2.

“We will proceed carefully, to protect the residents who are most vulnerable to COVID-19,” Gov. Kate Brown said. “With case counts rising, I have instructed the Department of Human Services to proceed with caution. However, it is my hope that families can now safely begin visiting the loved ones they have not been able to see for so many months.”

Qualifying facilities must submit safety plans to the state for approval.

To qualify, a facility must not have any suspected or current COVID-19 cases. The state policy and related guidance also detail visitor screening protocols, disinfecting requirements and indoor visitation practices.

In a news release from the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), the state requires facilities to protect the health of residents and staff by taking these precautions:

  • Scheduling staggered visits and limiting the number of visitors per resident to two at a time.
  • Setting time limits, if needed, to ensure all residents can receive visitors; and, allow special considerations for those traveling for visitation.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and designated visitation areas after each visit.
  • Ensuring visitors receive a health screening before entering, use required personal protective equipment (PPE) and proper hand hygiene during the visit and limit where they go within the facility.
  • Providing a dedicated visiting area.
  • Keeping a log of visitors (indoors and outdoors) that includes the visitor’s name, address and phone number to be used if contact tracing is needed.

RELATED: Federal health officials unveil plan to get coronavirus shots to nursing homes

Senior living facilities will also rely on neighboring communities to maintain indoor visitation options.

Counties must remain below a "high rate" of COVID-19 exposure and positivity, and facilities must adjust protocols for their community's numbers. A high rate is anything above 10%, medium is designated between 5-10% and low is classified below 5%.

Oregon Health Authority listed Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties with a positivity rate of 7.5% on Oct. 25.

As of Tuesday, Oct. 27, Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties listed their positive testing rates below 4%.

ODHS explained facilities must use one of two metrics to determine risk levels in their counties: CMS COVID-19 Positivity Rates and OHA COVID-19 Positivity Rates.

Communities with high incidents of COVID-19 may only have visitors indoors who qualify under the compassionate care policy.

“Indoor visitation restrictions have been extremely painful for everyone to endure,” said (ODHS) director Fariborz Pakseresht. "I hope this change will provide relief to those who are suffering from being separated from family and friends."

The state also provided these resources to track the new rules:

RELATED BACKGROUND: Oregon allows outdoor visits at long-term care facilities

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