‘Added level of protection’: Nursing home visitors must show proof of vaccination or negative test

Coronavirus

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in Rhode Island are posting signs to remind visitors of new safety rules that went into effect on Monday.

Under the statewide regulations, anyone visiting one of these facilities must now wear a mask at all times and show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test upon arrival.

John Gage, president of the Rhode Island Health Care Association, called the measures a common sense approach when it comes to protecting some of the most vulnerable members of the population.

“We don’t want to go back to the lockdowns that happened early on in the pandemic that had psychological impact on residents. They missed their families,” Gage said Tuesday.

Those looking to show proof of a negative test must have the results of an antigen (rapid) test taken within the previous 48 hours or a PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours.

“Providing proof you’ve been vaccinated or a negative test within the past 48 or 72 hours, based on the test, is reasonable and helps provide an added level of protection for the residents,” Gage added.

According to Gage, visitation at nursing homes was previously wide open under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. But, with cases surging locally and nationwide, they’ve since allowed states to issue new restrictions.

“The numbers are off the charts,” Gage said. “I think they found the right balance … protecting residents’ rights to have visitation but doing everything we can to keep them safe.”

McKee’s office said for frequent visitors, facilities can keep a record of their vaccination status so they don’t have to show proof every time they visit.

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