New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined new guidelines that nursing homes and hospitals must follow in order to protect the elderly.
Cuomo said nursing homes are "ground zero" for Covid-19.
"They are the vulnerable population in the vulnerable location. Today we're taking additional steps to protect seniors in nursing homes," he said at a news briefing on Sunday.
Here are the new safety measures nursing homes must follow:
- Visitation is restricted, except for end-of-life visits.
- Personal protective equipment is required for staff when interacting with residents who are suspected to have coronavirus or have tested positive.
- Face masks are required when staff interacts with all residents.
- All staff must be checked for coronavirus symptoms, including temperature checks every 12 hours and diagnostic tests every two weeks.
- Facilities must notify all residents and family members within 24 hours of a positive coronavirus test or death.
- The facilities must separate residents and staff in the event of an outbreak.
Cuomo said facilities must transfer any residents that they cannot take care of.
"If a nursing home cannot take care of a person, we have facilities that can," he said. "If they have a Covid positive person and they can't treat a Covid positive person, they must transfer the person or call the state Department of Health and the state Department of Health will transfer that person."
Cuomo said hospitals will also not be allowed to discharge patients to nursing homes unless they test negative for Covid-19.
"We're just not going to send a person who is positive to a nursing home after hospital visit. Period," Cuomo said. "If there's any issue, the resident must be referred to the department of health which will find alternative care."
If nursing homes do not follow these guidelines, Cuomo said they will lose their license.
"That's harsh. No. Harsh is having a nursing home resident who doesn't get the appropriate care. That's what's harsh. Having someone's parent or mother or brother where they're in a facility. They can't get a visitor. They're isolated. They feel alone and they're not getting the appropriate care. That is what is harsh," he said.