ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The New York State Department of Health announced new COVID-19 guidelines for visiting nursing homes.

According to the statement, nursing homes are no longer required to verify that visitors have a negative COVID-19 test before entry or to conduct COVID-19 screenings. The new guidance, according to DOH officials, supersedes all previous guidance for nursing home screening and testing.

The department currently recommends that nursing facilities use applicable practices such as wearing face masks, having specified entrances, exits, and routes, disinfecting and cleaning surfaces, and continuing to wash their hands.

It is currently optional for nursing facilities to continue testing or screening visitors at their discretion. This includes visitors completing a questionnaire, an in-person interview, or having their temperature taken. DOH recommends facilities in counties with high levels of transmission to offer to test.

“Our new guidance aligns with CMS guidance and recommends that facilities use passive screening, which includes providing visitor and staff education on COVID-19 signs and symptoms, and post instructional signage throughout the facility,“ said NYS Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald.

The department said that all nursing home staff and visitors should continue to follow COVID-19 infection prevention.

St. John’s President and CEO Charlie Runyon issued a statement in response to the new guidance, saying they are currently reviewing their guidelines:

As you may be aware, the New York State Department of Health has issued new guidance regarding Nursing Home Visitor Testing and Screening for COVID-19. At this time, St. John’s is reviewing our current guidelines. We will release new information regarding policy changes at St. John’s Home and St. John’s Penfield Green House Homes once a decision has been made impacting residents and families.

The Friendly Home Nursing Care and Rehabilitation also released a statement:

Today, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) announced that, effective immediately,
nursing homes are no longer required to verify that visitors have a negative COVID-19 test upon
entry or to conduct active COVID-19 screening.

The Friendly Home welcomes this news as we continue to move forward from the pandemic. In
compliance with the new DOH regulations and after review of the guidelines by the Home’s
Medical Director, the Friendly Home is no longer requiring COVID testing or screening for
visitors. Because our top priority is always the safety and well-being of our residents and staff,
the Friendly Home is strongly encouraging visitors to defer non-urgent visits if they are
experiencing respiratory symptoms and/or have had a COVID exposure. Further, COVID tests
will remain available at the Friendly Home for anyone who wishes to take a test before visiting.

The Friendly Home has shared this news with families, residents and staff, and we greatly
appreciate their patience, flexibility and partnership throughout the pandemic.