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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

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Migrants attempting to enter the United States from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Photo: David Peinado/Xinhua via Getty Images

A Texas nonprofit that recently hired a Biden transition official got a contract worth as much as $530 million to help manage the influx of migrant children at the southern border, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The contract is by far the largest ever awarded to Family Endeavors. It's potentially worth more than 12 times the group's most recently reported annual budget — a sign of the demand the new work will place on its operations.

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A leading conservative group is targeting the business community with a seven-figure ad buy on CNBC and local TV defending Georgia's new voting law from its corporate critics, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: By focusing on the C-suite through a network it watches, Heritage Action for America is offering a rejoinder to some companies — even Major League Baseball — after they waded so prominently into politics.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Advocates and lawmakers favoring marijuana reform are trying to capitalize on the social justice movement and COVID-19 economic rebound to legalize and normalize the use of pot.

Why it matters: The supporters are also trying to take advantage of polls showing broad public support — and get ahead of the reality Democrats could lose their control of Congress after the midterm elections next year.