For those who have been longing to visit a loved one in a nursing home, there is encouraging news this week as new data shows that county positivity rates and Covid cases in long-term care facilities are on the decline. Nursing home visitation rules are based on County Covid positivity rates, so for those wishing to visit a loved one, news of county positivity rates and COVID cases in long-term care facilities on the decline is encouraging.
Once a county’s positivity rate falls to less than 10%, nursing homes may be allowed to offer additional indoor visits. Each nursing home must develop its own visitation policy and set of safety protocols which consider the health and safety of all residents and staff. Additionally, a nursing home must not be in “CMS outbreak status,” meaning they may not have any Covid cases in the facility. Providers are required to abide by CMS visitation regulations even if residents and staff have been vaccinated. In the latter half of January, 54 of Iowa’s 99 counties had a positivity rate below 10%, a major improvement over the 34 counties below 10% in the first half of January and the 28 counties which met the criteria in the last half of December.
New data from the CDC shows a significant decline in COVID-19 activity at Iowa long-term care facilities for the same period: Cases at Iowa facilities are down 70% in the past month, from 410 at the end of December to 119 by mid-January. The rest of the nation was down only 37% over the past month. Outbreaks in Iowa are down by 70% in the past month, to 43 facilities compared to 146 in December. Deaths at Iowa facilities are down 34% in the past month, from 81 at the end of December to 53 by mid-January. Nationwide deaths at long-term care facilities declined only 21% over the past month. Jefferson County is currently at a 4.0%, Henry County: 6.8%, Washington County: 7.6%, Van Buren County: 9.9% and Wapello County at 12.6%