State Enhances Certain Emergency Safety Rules
AUSTIN –The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) today announced limited visitation rules for nursing facilities and long-term care facilities. HHSC is also issuing enhanced emergency rules requiring additional actions by nursing facilities to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
“This is a rapidly evolving situation and we are constantly assessing what actions are necessary to keep residents and staff safe in these facilities,” said Phil Wilson, Executive Commissioner, Texas HHSC. “By following these procedures and rules, facilities can more effectively prevent the spread of COVID-19 and help us achieve our shared goal of reuniting residents with their families and friends.”
“Access to family and loved ones is an important part of every resident’s health and well-being, which is why this policy shift is a move in the right direction for some of our most fragile Texans,” said Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (SD-18), Chair, Senate Committee on Health and Human Services.
“Today’s announcement is a critical first step for every person in a long-term care facility and their loved ones,” said Rep. James Frank (HD-69), Chair, Texas House Committee on Human Services. “This decision underscores that state leaders recognize the need to balance the emotional and physical health impacts of isolation against the serious dangers that COVID poses to these vulnerable Texans.”
For the health and safety of facility residents and staff, public visitation is limited to outdoor visits only. Physical contact between residents and visitors is not permitted. Additional conditions a facility must meet to conduct limited outdoor visitation include:
- No confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in staff in the last 14 days.
- No active positive cases in residents.
- Any facility previously experiencing an outbreak that has fully recovered must be adequately staffed and following adequate infection control procedures.
- Facility staff are being tested for COVID-19 weekly.
Further guidance on limited nursing facility visitation rules, which include window visits and vehicle parades, will be posted on the HHSC COVID-19 provider web page.
Long-Term Care Facilities (except Nursing Facilities)
Limited indoor and outdoor visitation procedures are allowed. Physical contact between residents and visitors is not permitted. Additional conditions a facility must meet to conduct limited visitation include:
- No confirmed COVID-19 positive staff in last 14 days.
- No active positive cases in residents.
- Adequate staffing to facilitate visitation in compliance with infection control requirements.
- Use of plexiglass as a safety barrier for indoor visitation to prevent spread of COVID-19.
Further guidance on limited indoor and outdoor visitation rules will be posted on the HHSC COVID-19 provider web page.
Emergency Rule Enhancements
Enhanced emergency rules for nursing facilities include:
- Each facility must have a COVID-19 response plan that includes designated staff to work with cohorts of residents who have tested positive for COVID-19, and staff should not change designation from one day to another, unless required to maintain adequate staffing for a cohort.
- All nursing facilities must screen all residents, staff, and people who come to the facility in accordance with specified criteria, and each resident must be screened at least three times a day for signs or symptoms of COVID-19.
- Each facility must have plans for obtaining and maintaining a two-week supply of personal protective equipment and resident recovery plans for continuing care when a resident recovers from COVID-19.
The full emergency rules will be posted on the HHSC COVID-19 provider web page.
The latest guidance for nursing facilities is posted here. Texas HHSC continues to investigate all long-term care facilities in the state that report one or more positive case of COVID-19, as well as coordinate closely with local, state, and federal health authorities.
For more information about how HHSC is helping Texans affected by COVID-19, visit the HHSC website.