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Michigan care facilities concerned but happy to welcome visitors again

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the change Wednesday with restrictions
Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 6:07 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - Although families have been allowed to safely visit outdoors since September, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration went a step further Wednesday by allowing indoor visitation at residential care facilities for the first time since March.

The new order states visits must be approved in advance, cannot be allowed in counties at risk level E on the MI Safe Start Map and there can be no visits in facilities where there’s been a confirmed case within 14 days.

RELATED: Michigan nursing homes allowed to offer indoor visitation again

Melissa Samuel is president and CEO of the Health Care Association of Michigan. She says the governor’s announcement builds on the Michigan Nursing Homes COVID-19 Preparedness Task Force report.

“We think there’s some good precautions and steps and protocols in place with the orders that were issued today. It is all predicated on the level of COVID at a community level. That will be updated daily," Samuel said.

Managers in some Mid-Michigan care facilities voiced concern about rule changes as coronavirus cases across the state are on the rise.

“We are now at our peak when it comes to daily new cases,” Whitmer said. “This peak is higher. It’s higher than what we saw in April."

ABC12 asked the state to clarify whether facilities can choose to be more restrictive given this concern.

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, visits that support activities of daily living and visits for residents who are in critical care must be allowed unless the visitor is COVID-19-positive and refuses testing or a mask when required.

However, for general visits and other visitor categories, facilities can be more restrictive than the state rule.

“The good thing about this is it doesn’t take effect until Monday so they will have a few days here to make sure that if in fact, you know, again, depending on where the facility is and they have everything in place to allow it, that they’re ready to go," Samuel said.

She believes this is an important quality of life issue for seniors.

“There can be an impact both mentally and physically after a while. I think we are probably at that point, and I do think this is a positive step to take, but I think we have to be in a constant state of monitoring as well," Samuel said.

She gives a lot of credit to the caretakers inside each facility.

“HCAM is proud of the dedicated caregivers in our member facilities and all they have done, and continue to do, to keep their residents safe," Samuel said.

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