LANSING, Mich. (WSYM) — Wednesday Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Robert Gordon issued an emergency order updating and expanding requirements for residential care facilities while also permitting indoor visitation in certain circumstances.
“As we grapple with both colder weather and rising cases, our task is to increase access to visitation in ways that do not increase the spread of the virus,” said Gordon. “Visitation is a substantial source of risk. This order provides a plan for visitation that mitigates risk and continues necessary protections in facilities across the state.”
The order continues to limit communal dining and group activities, both internal and external, consistent with Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services guidance. It requires quick notification in the event an employee or resident is confirmed as positive for COVID-19.
Under the order, visitation rules are linked to the risk level of the county. Indoor visitation will be allowed in areas where the current risk level is A, B, C, or D, so long as the facilities have had no new cases. That includes cases involving residents or staff originating within the prior 14 days.
A list of county risk levels is available HERE.
Indoor visitation will not be permitted when the county is at risk level E, meaning there is elevated incidence growth rate with average daily cases/million greater than 150 or a positivity rate greater than 20%. It is also not allowed if the local health department has determined that it would be unsafe.
Outdoor visitation is allowed throughout the state so long as the facility assures outdoor visitation area allow for at least six feet between all persons and can provide adequate protection from weather.
Visitors will be required to wear facemasks or any other PPE required by individual facilities at all times and need to be six feet from residents. Visitors who are providing support for any activities, medical services or non-medical services requiring physical contact are not required to abide by social distance requirements between the visitor and the resident during services.
Visitors participating in end of life visits are allowed physical contact with a resident so long as that resident is not COVID-19 positive. Those visitors must also be wearing appropriate PPE and the time spent within six feet of the resident can be no longer than 15 minutes.
“This is a delicate balance of trying to prevent the further spread of the virus while still allowing for family members and friends to visit their loved ones in residential care facilities,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “I remain concerned about the increase in case levels across the state, so it will be vitally important that the order be followed closely in order to keep the facilities safe and prevent the spread of the virus.”
Visits will be allowed by appointment only and facilities may impose sensible time limits on visits, requiring visitors to log arrival and departure times, provide their contact information and attest, in writing, that they will notify the facility if they develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19 within 14 days after visiting.
There will be a limit of two people or fewer per visit. Based on county risk levels and the type of visit, visitors will be required to get tested prior to entry.
Violation of this order is punishable by a civil fine of up to $1,000, and may also be treated as a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than six months, or a fine of not more than $200, or both.
The order goes into effect on Oct. 26 and and will remain until lifted.