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Karen Klink visits her 86-year-old mother Cynthia Tachner at Silverado Beach Cities Memory Care in Redondo Beach, California on Monday. Photo: Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG via Getty Images

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their guidance on Wednesday to expand in-person visitation for nursing home residents.

Why it matters: Millions have been forced to remain separated from their loved ones in long-term care throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that nursing home residents are getting vaccinated against the coronavirus at high rates, the risk of transmission has dropped, according to the CMS.

Details: Outdoor visits are preferred, regardless of a resident or visitor's vaccination status. But acknowledging that sometimes outdoor visits are impractical given weather or health conditions, the guidance encourages facilities to allow "responsible indoor visitation" at all times and for all residents.

Visitation should be limited for:

  • Unvaccinated residents, if the COVID-19 county positivity rate is more than 10% and less than 70% of residents in the facility are fully vaccinated.
  • Residents with confirmed infections, whether vaccinated or not.
  • Residents in quarantine, whether vaccinated or not.

The latest guidance stresses the importance of "compassionate care" visits, which include those for a resident whose health has sharply declined or are experiencing a significant change in circumstances.

  • Facilities should allow such visits at all times regardless of a resident's vaccination status, the county's positivity rate or an outbreak.
  • If an outbreak occurs, visitation can still happen so long as evidence shows the outbreak is contained to a single unit or separate facility area, the agency added.

What they're saying: "CMS recognizes the psychological, emotional and physical toll that prolonged isolation and separation from family have taken on nursing home residents, and their families," Lee Fleisher, CMS chief medical officer and director of the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality, said in a statement.

  • "This is an important step that we are taking, as we continue to emphasize the importance of maintaining infection prevention practices, given the continued risk of transmission of COVID-19."

The big picture: The CDC issued separate advice Monday for fully vaccinated people, giving them greater freedom.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Report: LGBTQ+ Afghans' lives "dramatically worsened" under Taliban rule

Taliban fighters in Kabul, Afghanistan, earlier this month. Photo: Mohd Rasfan/AFP via Getty Images

LGBTQ+ Afghans have been threatened, attacked and "faced an increasingly desperate situation and grave threats to their safety" since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan last August, per a report published Wednesday.

What they're saying: "We spoke with LGBT Afghans who have survived gang rape, mob attacks, or have been hunted by their own family members who joined the Taliban, and they have no hope that state institutions will protect them," per a statement from study co-author J. Lester Feder.

4 hours ago - World

Canadian Indigenous group finds 93 suspected unmarked graves

A makeshift memorial honoring the 215 children whose remains were found in a mass grave in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, last May. Photo: Cole Burston/AFP via Getty Images

Indigenous leaders in Canada's western province of British Columbia said Tuesday they believe they've found 93 unmarked graves near a former boarding school.

The big picture: Hundreds of mass graves have been found at the grounds of former residential schools for Indigenous children since last May, when the remains of 215 children were uncovered at one such site in B.C.

7 hours ago - World

Coast Guard searches for 39 people after boat capsizes off Florida coast

A U.S. Coast Guard ship leaving its base in Miami Beach, Florida, in July. Photo: AP/Marta Lavandier

U.S. Coast Guard crews were searching into the night for 39 people whose boat sank off Florida's coast over the weekend after traveling from the Bahamas.

The big picture: A "good Samaritan" contacted the Coast Guard about 8 a.m. Tuesday to say they "rescued a man clinging to a capsized vessel" 45 miles east of Fort Pierce, per a tweet from the agency, which noted it was dealing with "a suspected human smuggling venture."