You might be able to visit Grandma at the nursing home under the new rules.

Governor Larry Hogan has announced a new plan that would allow limited visitation at nursing homes across Maryland. Visits would be conducted outdoors, and visitors would be required to wear masks and stay six feet apart from residents. Facilities will have to meet certain criteria listed by the Maryland Department of Health before they can allow family members and friends to visit. The governor is also requiring nursing homes to test staff weekly for COVID-19.

Not every nursing home will be eligible for outdoor visitation. The Maryland Department of Health will require each facility to go 14 days without a confirmed COVID case and ensure it has adequate staffing and PPE supplies. Nursing homes that qualify can begin outdoor visitations with the following rules:

  • Visitors and residents wear a face covering at all times.
  • Visitors and residents must maintain proper social distancing at all times.
  • it is strongly recommended that there are no more than two visitors at a time per resident, per visit.

Governor Hogan meets with members of the long-term care community about the coronavirus.

Governor Hogan meets with members of the long-term care community about the coronavirus, courtesy Joe Andrucyk.

Families have not been able to visit their loved ones since the coronavirus crisis began in early March. Residents have only been able to talk on the phone, video chat, or sometimes see family through the window. In addition to the new visitation guidelines, the governor also announced he is initiating weekly testing of all nursing home employees and staff. Testing employees will help facilities prevent outbreaks and hopefully remain virus-free. Residents of nursing facilities with active cases will also be retested weekly. 

Hogan was the first governor in the nation to require testing of residents and employees of all nursing facilities in the state. The testing allowed state health officials to identify outbreaks and keep the virus from spreading, lowering infection rates and deaths among elderly patients. Outdoor visitation is the first step in allowing nursing homes to eventually resume normal operating procedures.