COLUMBUS, Ohio — During an unexpected press conference Monday, Gov. Mike DeWine announced that beginning July 20, nursing homes will be allowed to hold outdoor visitation as long as the facilities can follow state-issued guidelines and requirements.
Visitation was not allowed at nursing homes, intermediate care and assisted living facilities following an order issued in March. DeWine had allowed intermediate care and assisted living facilities to begin holding outdoor visitations on June 8, but nursing homes were not included.
“I know that causes anguish for a lot of people who are watching this, but we’re trying to do this so that we don’t increase the COVID inside the nursing homes or the assisted living or the intermediate care facilities,” DeWine had said of his decision to exclude nursing homes from the allowed visitations. “So we’re gonna start with a couple of the intermediate care facilities with people with developmental disabilities and the assisted living facilities we’re going to start on June 8.”
On Monday, DeWine gave nursing homes clearance to begin outdoor visitations next month as long as they can follow the guidelines.
"My job as governor is to do everything I can to protect the most vulnerable among us. Part of that job means putting measures in place to keep people safe from the virus. It also though means protecting those things that add value to life," DeWine said. "And visits by family members to nursing homes, to their loved ones, is certainly adds value to life."
Nursing homes will be able to hold outdoor visitation as long as all safety measures are met. Nursing homes that hold visitations are asked to consider the number of COVID-19 cases in their community, the case status of the nursing home itself, staffing levels, access to adequate testing, access to adequate personal protective equipment and local hospital capacity.
DeWine said that the state has been working with the Ohio National Guard in extensive and regular testing inside of nursing homes, monitoring both staff and residents to stay ahead of the virus before any outbreaks could occur.
According to Maj. Gen. John C. Harris Jr., the National Guard has conducted tests in more than 250 nursing homes and have tested around 25,000 people and continue to increase testing across the state.
The state will soon have guidelines for outdoor visitation at nursing homes listed on its website.