CMS Updates Nursing Home Visitation Guidance

On Wednesday, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), issued updated guidance for nursing homes to safely expand visitation options during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the latest guidance, facilities should allow responsible indoor visitation at all times and for all residents, regardless of vaccination status of the resident or visitor, unless certain scenarios arise that would limit visitation for:

  • Unvaccinated residents, if the COVID-19 county positivity rate is greater than 10 percent and less than 70 percent of facility residents are fully vaccinated;
  • Residents with confirmed COVID-19 infection, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, until they have met the criteria to discontinue transmission-based precautions; or
  • Residents in quarantine, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, until they have met criteria for release from quarantine.

The updated guidance additionally emphasizes that “compassionate care” visits should be allowed at all times, regardless of a resident’s vaccination status, the county’s COVID-19 positivity rate, or an outbreak. Compassionate care visits include visits for a resident whose health has sharply declined or is experiencing a significant change in circumstances.

This latest guidance comes as more than three million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered within nursing homes, in part due to the CDC’s Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program.

The updated CMS guidance for nursing homes is available here.