A state public health order went into effect today that essentially shut down visitation in long term care facilities in California. The order requires all visitors to have a negative COVID test in the past 2 days (PCR tests) or 1 day (antigen tests) in order to visit. Given the substantial challenges to test access, this is tantamount to a visitation lockout.
The new visitation lockout is abominable and exasperating, especially given that:
- The testing requirement being applied to visitors does not apply to the facility staff. Even unvaccinated staff have less stringent testing requirements than vaccinated visitors.
- Visitors were not required to show negative test results when the COVID death rate in long term care facilities was exponentially higher in 2020-21 and that was before residents and visitors were vaccinated.
- The testing requirements expressly do NOT apply to hospital visits.
- Federal law prohibits facilities from requiring COVID testing of visitors. (CMS QSO 20-39-NH, pp 5-6)
We encourage all long term care facility residents and their loved ones to urge the federal and state governments to eliminate the state testing requirements for fully vaccinated visitors. Send your requests to Cassie Dunham, acting Deputy Director of the state Center for Health Care Quality and Rufus Arther at the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Rufus.Arther@cms.hhs.gov / Cassie.Dunham@cdph.ca.gov
Please send copies of your messages to your state Senator and Assemblymember. You can find your representatives here: https://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/
At CANHR, we are doing all that we can to end the visitation lockout but we need your help.