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November 17, 2020

New Jersey issues COVID-19 health and safety guidance for nursing homes ahead of upcoming holiday season

Those who leave a long-term-care facility for a celebration must self-isolate for two weeks

Senior Health COVID-19
nj covid-19 guidance nursing homes holidays Edwin J. Torres/New Jersey Office of the Governor

New Jersey Dept. of Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli says the state is concerned about the number of new COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes.

Residents of long-term care facilities in New Jersey should not be taken to family holiday celebrations due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But if residents do choose to attend a holiday gathering, they must self-quarantine for 14 days upon returning to the facility.

That’s according to the state's latest COVID-19 health and safety guidance for long-term care facilities. 

Rather than taking residents out of nursing homes, families are advised to conduct an outdoor or indoor visit at the long-term care facility. Nursing homes also should find ways to make virtual communications readily available for residents.

"Small family gatherings are a significant driver of increasing cases, and bringing your loved ones home could put them at risk," Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said

"We remain concerned about the number of outbreaks we are seeing in long-term care, so we need to be especially vigilant to protect this population. We continue to partner with the industry to improve quality and infection control in these facilities."

If a resident decides to leave a long-term-care facility, strict protocols must be followed to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

Nursing homes are required to develop a plan for holiday visits, including an estimate of how many residents can be kept separate for a two-week self-isolation period from Nov. 25 through Dec. 31.

During the 14-day self-quarantine period, residents will need to stay in their own private room or in an observation room.

Long-term care facilities are encouraged to develop a reservation system to ensure they have the necessary capacity for self-quarantine. If necessary, waiting lists should also be implemented.

However, if residents choose to leave without a reservation or spot on the waitlist, they may not be allowed to return to the facility at the end of the visit.

Residents and families must pledge to wear face masks, practice social distancing and frequently wash their hands during gatherings held outside the facility. 

They also must notify the nursing home if any attendee tests positive for COVID-19 or has coronavirus symptoms within 14 days of the celebration.

Due to the recent spike in coronavirus infections, Gov. Phil Murphy has said this will not be a normal holiday season for New Jersey residents.

New Jersey recorded 2,232 new coronavirus infections Monday, increasing the statewide total to 281,493. In the last four days, the state has reported 14,556 COVID-19 cases, which is roughly 5% of its total number of infections. 

On Sunday, New Jersey tallied 4,540 new coronavirus cases, the state's highest daily number since the pandemic began.

The state has had 14,779 lab-confirmed deaths due to COVID-19.

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