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Nursing homes allowed to resume visitation despite COVID-19 spike

Nursing homes allowed to resume visitation despite COVID-19 spike

Nicholas Youngblood

Even if the state allows it, you might want to think twice about visiting your grandparents in the nursing home this week.

Ohio nursing homes will allow indoor, in-person visits as of Monday, Oct. 12, per the order of Interim Director of the Ohio Department of Health Lance Himes. This change comes as Ohio reports record-high levels of COVID-19 transmission.

Nursing home residents will be allowed two visitors per day, and required health screening will be limited to a temperature check and questions about exposure to COVID-19, despite the fact that asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission of the disease is possible.

“Performing screening or health checks will not be completely effective because asymptomatic individuals or individuals with mild non-specific symptoms may not realize they are infected and may pass through screening,” according to the CDC website. “Screening and health checks are not a replacement for other protective measures such as social distancing.”

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Masks will be required at all times, but contact-free visitation is only encouraged, not mandated. Testing visitors for the virus is recommended, but also not required. Another concern is that the order does not specify a minimum age for visitors, despite children typically having mild to no symptoms after contracting the virus.

Ohio reported 1,840 new positive COVID-19 tests on Friday, which was the highest one-day total ever recorded by the state. The second-highest total occurred July 30, when Ohio saw 1,733 positive tests in a single day.

At the time of publication, the Ohio Department of Health has not replied to request for comment regarding the timing of their decision.

Gov. Mike DeWine has been warning Ohioans we could be in for a rough winter, and pointed out that positivity rates have been climbing, while the most recent numbers for coronavirus-related hospitalizations and ICU admissions are both higher than the average over the past 21 days.  

There will be a COVID-19 testing site in Columbus on Thursday, Oct. 15. Those wishing to be screened for the disease can go to PrimaryOne Health at 2300 W. Broad St. from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. that day for a no-cost test.

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