BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — On Monday, State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker unveiled new guidelines for nursing home visitations based on each county’s COVID-19 positivity rate.
For areas with a positivity rate under five percent, testing is encouraged but not required. Counties with a rate between 5-10 percent must test people within three days of their visit, while those with a positivity rate more than 10 percent cannot allow visitation except for compassionate care.
But even with these updates, one rule remains: if a facility has a positive COVID-19 case, they cannot allow visitors for two weeks. Families say with this in place, the likelihood they can see their loved ones is low.
“If we were to go into the nursing home and anybody – a vendor, a worker, an employee, a resident – gets COVID, 14 days it gets shut down and we start the cycle over, and over, and over again,” said Michelle Layer, whose 91-year-old father is a resident at Harris Hill Nursing Facility in Williamsville.
Layer said the last time visitors were allowed at the nursing home while this rule was in place, seeing her dad in person became impossible since there was at least one positive COVID case every two weeks. Now she said she can just hope she’ll be able to do more than just see her father through his window.
“I don’t know what time we’ve got left with my dad,” Layer said. “I’d like to just tuck him into bed like he took care of us, and someday I’d like to get that back, but I’m not quite sure when.”
The new visitation changes go into effect Friday, Feb 26.
Marlee Tuskes is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.