Wolf administration releases new guidance for reopening long-term care facilities

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By KYW Newsradio 1060

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Human Services announced a new strategy Saturday to ease long-term care facility restrictions.

According to new guidance, long-term care facilities would be required to meet several prerequisites before beginning Gov. Tom Wolf's 3-step reopening process.

Those prerequisites include administering tests within 24 hours of a resident showing coronavirus symptoms, developing a plan of isolation for residents diagnosed with COVID-19, developing a safe visitation plan, establishing written screening protocols for staff, having adequate staffing and personal protective equipment, and posting an implementation plan to the facility's website.

Once those prerequisites are met, the Wolf administration indicates the facility can enter the process of reopening. In each step, facilities must have no new coronavirus cases among staff or residents and no spread of the virus for 14 consecutive days. They say long-term care facilities can operate as outlined in the governor's COVID-19 disaster declaration as long as no new cases arise.

Visitation will only be allowed in steps two and three as long as the facility determines a resident is able to do so safely. Residents with cognitive decline or those who express feelings of loneliness will be prioritized. Wolf said social distancing, universal masking and hygiene protocols should be followed.