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Federal Government, Indiana Issue New Mandates For Nursing Home Visitation

Mitchell Manor

Mitchell Manor in Lawrence County was the site of an early COVID-19 outbreak last spring. (Seth Tackett, WFIU/WTIU News)

Indiana and the federal government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued new visitation guidance Wednesday for long-term care facility operators. 

In a release, CMS says facilities should “allow responsible indoor visitation at all times and for all residents, regardless of vaccination status.”  The agency did place restrictions on unvaccinated residents in areas where the county positivity is above 10% and those who are confirmed to have symptoms or are currently quarantined. 

During a press conference on Wednesday, Indiana State Health Commissioner, Dr. Kristina Box, said the impact of lockdowns should not be overlooked. 

“We get complaints from families and from individuals across the state,” the commissioner said. “If those facilities are not following the particular guidelines that the Indiana Department of Health have put out then we can specifically look into that.”

Earlier in the pandemic, caregivers locked out of facilities said despite filing visitation complaints, most were unreturned. 

For months, senior officials from the state’s department of health said few—if any—identifiable facility outbreaks started because of family visitation.   

READ MORE: 'It Is Abuse:' Indiana Caregivers Say Nursing Home Vistation Policies Don't Put Residents First 

While vaccines have significantly slowed the rate of new infections, nearly 25,000 residents have contracted the virus since the pandemic began. 

More than 6,000 long-term care facility residents have died from COVID-19 in Indiana—which accounts for nearly half the state’s deaths. 

For the latest news and resources about COVID-19, bookmark our Coronavirus In Indiana page here.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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