Iowa Loosens Restrictions on Nursing Home Visits

DES MOINES, Iowa - The state is loosening restrictions on nursing home visits.

The new rules allow indoor visits in counties with lower COVID-19 positivity rates, which now includes about two-thirds of the state.

Nursing home residents have mostly been isolated since March because of the pandemic.

The facilities have been virus hot spots, and account for more than half of the COVID-19 deaths in Iowa.

There are currently outbreaks at 53 nursing homes.

The change in state policy comes after federal guidelines have also eased.

The new rules specify that nursing home visits are allowed at facilities in counties where the positivity rate is 10% or less. Visits are limited to "compassion care" in higher positivity rate counties. Compassion care includes when a nursing home patient is near death or is struggling emotionally.

Thirty-four of Iowa's 99 counties now have a COVID-19 positivity rate above 10%. Nursing homes account for 704 of the state's 1,366 deaths as of early Friday morning.

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