OKLAHOMA CITY — Governor Kevin Stitt and Health Commissioner Lance Frye announced Tuesday the state is updating its visitation guidelines for long-term care facilities to allow guests to visit their loved ones.
Oklahoma closed visitation to long-term care facilities in mid-March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“At the onset of the pandemic, we reviewed the emerging data on COVID-19, and we knew elderly Oklahomans and those with comorbidities were at high risk in our long-term care centers. I firmly believe that our decision to close these facilities to visitors early saved lives,” Gov. Stitt said. “Isolation and depression are a very real threat for Oklahomans who have been separated from their loved ones by COVID-19. Now, with vaccinations being carried out at long term care centers across the state and case levels on the decline, we believe families can now safely see their loved ones.”
According to the governor's office, long-term care and assisted living centers may allow each resident to designate one or more essential caregivers who may make in-person visits. Officials said these visitors must complete state training to become essential caregivers, which will be made available online and should not take more than 15 minutes to complete.
“This new guidance is life-altering for Oklahomans living in long-term care centers and their family members who have been separated for so long,” said Deputy Commissioner of Health Innovation Travis Kirkpatrick. “This significant change will ensure the safety of residents, staff and family members and continues our ongoing efforts to adjust our state guidance based on the realities on the ground here in Oklahoma. We urge all long term care centers to follow these new guidelines.”
Visitors who complete the training will still need to follow a number of guidelines in order to safely visit their loved ones:
- If both the resident and visitor are vaccinated:
- A mask is required and proof of vaccination completion must be provided for both to have non-supervised contact.
- If either the resident or visitor is not vaccinated:
- A mask is required and proof of a negative COVID-19 test or onsite test may be required for both to have non-supervised contact.
- If neither the resident nor visitor are vaccinated:
- A mask is required and proof of a negative COVID-19 test or onsite test may be required for both to have a supervised, no-contact visit.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health is also providing long-term care facilities with the necessary PPE to keep both residents and visitors safe and access to rapid COVID-19 tests to give a holistic approach to prevention, officials said.
“I do want to remind Oklahomans that despite recent updated guidance from the CDC for those who have been vaccinated, if you’re visiting a long term care center it’s still important to follow the masking guidelines outlined above out of an abundance of caution,” said State Commissioner of Health Dr. Lance Frye. “This is for the safety of your loved one and everyone in the building who may be vulnerable to COVID-19. We are excited this will give families the opportunity to reunite with their loved ones in a safe way.”
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