COVID-19 Guidance: Long-term Care Indoor Visitation for Nursing Facilities and Assisted Living



MDH has adopted the March 10, 2021, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) guidance for visitation that applies immediately to nursing homes and assisted living-type settings, published in QSO-20-39-NH Revised (www.cms.gov/files/document/qso-20-39-nh-revised.pdf).


This guidance replaces previous Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) visitation guidance for Minnesota’s long-term care facilities, such as nursing facilities, skilled nursing facilities, and assisted living-type facilities (including registered housing-with-services settings with an arranged home care provider).


Definition of fully vaccinated: People are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 two weeks after their second dose of a vaccine that requires two doses (like Pfizer or Moderna), or two weeks after they get a single dose of a vaccine that requires one dose (like Johnson & Johnson).


All long-term care providers should continue to follow basic core principles for preventing COVID-19 infection, including:

  • Screening all who enter the setting for signs and symptoms of COVID-19, and deny entry of those with signs or symptoms or those who have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 infection in the past 14 days regardless of the visitor’s vaccination status.

  • Hand hygiene. An alcohol-based hand rub is best unless hands are visibly soiled, and then soap and water is recommended.

  • Wearing a well-fitting facemask that fully covers the mouth and nose.

  • Keeping people 6 feet apart (social distancing).

  • Educating visitors about basic steps to prevent COVID-19 infection and posting signs throughout the building to help them remember.

  • Cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces in the facility often, and designated visitation areas after each visit.

  • Having staff wear face masks and other needed personal protective equipment.

The QSO 20-39 NH Revised memo does not say that providers are expected to supervise or to watch visits. Residents should be able to have private visits. Providers should remind residents and families of infection control practices if they forget to follow the basic steps. Facility staff shall not restrict visitation without a reasonable clinical or safety cause.


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