Nursing homes reopen to visitors if conditions are met
After nearly a year, nursing homes across the Hudson Valley have the green light to allow in-person visitations once again if certain conditions are met -- but one family considers it "false hope."
There are some guidelines that must be followed for the visits to happen.
• The nursing home must be COVID-free for 14 straight days to allow visitors inside.
• Facilities located in counties with a 5% to 10% positivity rate will require visitors to take a COVID-19 test before entering.
• If a facility is located in a county with a less than 5% positivity rate, a test is only recommended, not required.
Andrea Thau, whose father lives in the Grove Rehabilitation Home in Valhalla, says the guidelines aren't changing much for her family.
"The guidelines are still the same as October ... 15 minutes, six feet apart, must wear masks so we can't go in and hug our dad," she said. "My mom can't go in and hug her husband."
The Grove says they're still reviewing plans for visitations at the facility and look forward to families reuniting in person with loved ones in the next two weeks.
"We thought it was going to be [Friday] to be quite honest," said Thau. "Hugging with a mask is still hugging ... hugging with PPE is still hugging, but it's hard to hug from six feet away."
Meanwhile New York state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker faced tough questions from state lawmakers this week about the handling of COVID deaths in New York's nursing homes.
At the center of the testimony was Gov. Andrew Cuomo's March 25 mandate to return COVID-19 patients back into nursing homes in order to free up hospital beds.
Questions also focused on whether the Cuomo administration intentionally undercounted the number of COVID-19 nursing home deaths.
Last month, the state attorney general's office found the true number was 50% higher than the Cuomo administration originally reported.
Dr. Zucker defended each of the state's pandemic-related decisions and blamed nursing home staff for the approximately 15,000 deaths inside New York's nursing facilities. "There was the 37,000 staff who ended up having COVID and they brought it in inadvertently," says Dr. Zucker
The Cuomo administration is facing a federal probe into the nursing home deaths.