On Wednesday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued recommendations according to which fully vaccinated residents of nursing homes are allowed to receive indoor visits and hugs from their loved ones many of them have not seen in months.

The decision comes amid a decrease in COVID-19 infection and transmission rates among the nursing home population, as well as a steady surge in the number of fully vaccinated Americans, including millions of nursing home residents.

CMS stated that they still recommend that residents and their family members follow the COVID-19 preventative measures such as physical distancing.

However, social isolation has already made a negative emotional impact on nursing home residents that cannot be adequately addressed by anything but close physical contact with the loved ones.

Almost a year ago, nursing home facilities banned all visits to their residents.

It took until fall 2020 for the facilities to permit limited contacts, most of which were only allowed outdoors.

But now, visits are seemingly being permitted in various ways.

CMC suggested that the structural capacities of each nursing home facility determine whether the visit should take place outdoors, in vistors spaces, or even in resident rooms.

Even though CMC does not require visitors to be vaccinated or to show a vaccination certificate, it still recommends that everyone receive their vaccine doses before coming to the nursing home facilities.

CMC also suggested that the so-called ‘compassionate care visits’ can occur at any time of the day.

These visits refer to the occasions in which a loved one wants to visit a nursing home resident about to die or experiencing some other kind of hardship.

A tough year for nursing home residents

All around the world, nursing home residents proved to be particularly vulnerable to the worst-case scenarios surrounding COVID-19 disease.

Just in the U.S., almost 200,000 nursing home residents are believed to be the victims of the COVID-19 so far.

December is estimated to be the worst month regarding the nursing home deaths in the U.S, with a death rate climbing up to 6.39 per 1,000 residents in the week of December 20th.

Fortunately, the death rate has plummeted significantly since then and is estimated to be around 1.09 per 1,000 residents at the present moment.