Breaking News
More () »

Some counties have too many COVID-19 cases to open nursing homes

Limited visitation is allowed to resume at long-term care facilities June 15, with many restrictions. Nine Tennessee counties have too many COVID-19 cases to open.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — After months of visiting loved ones through glass windows at long-term care facilities, Monday the state lifts the ban on guests.  But the move comes with several restrictions.

Governor Bill Lee announced limited visitation will be allowed starting June 15. The decision to allow visitors is voluntary, facilities do not have to allow guests.

The assisted living and nursing homes will also have to be located in areas with low "disease burdens."  If a county averages more than 10 new cases for every 100,000 people over the last 14-days, the disease burden is too high to allow visitation.

"Right now, nine Tennessee counties – Bedford, Davidson, Lake, Macon, Putnam, Robertson, Rutherford, Shelby, and Unicoi – are above the 10-new-cases-per-100,000 in population threshold," wrote Dean Flener with TEMA on Thursday.

Credit: WBIR
June 11, 2020, map showing counties with disease burdens too high to allow nursing home visitation. Not pictured are Shelby and Lake counties in West Tennessee.

Unicoi County is the only county in East Tennessee with too many new COVID-19 cases to allow visitation.

Facilities also will not be allowed visitors if there are any new cases of COVID-19 among residents or staff within the last 28 days.

Gov. Lee said Wednesday that all residents and staff would be tested for COVID-19 by Friday.

Visitation will require a scheduled appointment and facilities are encouraged to find an outdoor option for in-person visits.

Credit: WBIR
"Heroes Work Here" sign outside a long-term care facility in Blount County.

Below is a full list of requirements provided by Gov. Lee's office Wednesday.

Facilities that choose to re-open to visitors must first meet the following prerequisites:

  • Testing of all staff and residents at least once, and compliance with applicable regulations regarding weekly staff re-testing;
  • No new COVID-19 case in residents or staff members in the previous 28 days;
  • Compliant with Board for Licensing Health Care Facilities regulations and infection control guidelines;
  • Overall stability of the disease burden present in the community where the facility is located.

Long-term care facilities who meet the prerequisites and allow limited visitation must follow guidelines, which include:

  • Making appointments prior to visiting and limiting the duration of visits;
  • Limiting the number of visitors per resident and daily visitors per facility;
  • Enforcing visitor social distancing and mask requirements; and,
  • Screening all visitors with symptom and temperature checks immediately upon facility entry.

Long-term care facilities may utilize three options for limited resident visitation to take place:

  • In an outdoor setting, weather permitting; 
  • Using a visitation booth or protective barrier; and,
  • A resident’s room if the visitor documents a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours prior to the visit.  

RELATED: June 10, 2020 - Visitation -- with precautions -- will be allowed at TN nursing homes starting Monday

RELATED: May 29, 2020 - Governor: Nursing homes residents, staff must be tested before end of June

Before You Leave, Check This Out