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Officials with the Alabama Nursing Home Association (ANHA) said that new cases of COVID-19 have dropped more than 98% in the state’s nursing homes since residents began being vaccinated in December, just as federal restrictions are easing.

According to the ANHA, there were 900 new cases in one week back in December. Now that number is down to 5 to 10 new cases a week, they said.

At the end of April, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidelines that eased restrictions for nursing home residents and visitors.

Visitors who are fully vaccinated have to wear a mask when they enter a nursing home. But once inside, they can remove their mask and touch, hug or sit too close to residents who are also fully vaccinated.

Residents can also dine together and take part in other group activities if everyone in the room has been fully vaccinated.

Lower Cases Coming At A Good Time

Nursing homes across the country were hit hard by the pandemic. Restrictions were put in place to limit exposure to the coronavirus and protect the health of seniors. Visits were limited to seeing loved ones outside a window or to video conferencing. The restrictions were necessary to save lives, but those same restrictions also took a toll on the emotional and mental health of people who lived in the facilities.

ANHA spokesperson John Matson said that the easing of restrictions is expected to have a positive impact on the well-being of residents.

“Nothing takes the place of being able to sit down, hold someone’s hand, look them in the eye, give them a hug, and that’s why we are so thankful these restrictions have been lifted,” he said.

Matson noted that the new CDC guidelines also address employees of nursing homes. For example, if they are fully vaccinated, they no longer need to be tested for COVID-19 multiple times a week unless there is an outbreak.

As of the end of April, more than 7 million doses of vaccines had been administered in long-term care facilities in the United States, according to the CDC.

According to the ANHA, there are 231 nursing home facilities in the state with a total of 27,397 beds.

Nursing Homes Still Have A Responsibility

ANHA president and CEO Brandon Farmer notes that while restrictions have eased, it’s important for remaining restrictions and guidelines to be followed.

“Cases of COVID-19 are down 98% in Alabama’s nursing homes and we’re beginning to return to normal operations,” Alabama Nursing Home Association president and CEO Brandon Farmer said. “We’re glad the public can begin to do more activities without wearing a mask. However, nursing homes must still abide by federal guidelines that require residents, visitors, and staff members to wear masks in certain circumstances. We appreciate the family members of our residents understanding and wearing a mask when they visit their loved one.”

Nursing homes have a responsibility to protect the health and safety of residents. That means putting in place policies and procedures that follow federal and state guidelines. If nursing home negligence led to the harm of a loved one, it’s important to get legal advice from an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

The nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers at Braswell Murphy, LLC are committed to fighting for the rights of nursing home residents.