Nursing Home Visitation Being Expanded in Louisiana
UPDATE: Originally, when Governor John Bel Edwards announced the restrictions that went along with moving to Phase 3, he announced that the Louisiana Department of Health was finalizing plans for a pilot program that would allow outdoor visitations for nursing homes that are located in parishes with 5% positivity or less and zero cases in the last 14 days. Now, with new guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services being released, nursing homes located in parishes with no more than 10 percent test positivity and without any new onset of COVID cases in the last 14 days can allow indoor visitation.
"Recognizing the impact of isolation and the importance of connectedness, Louisiana's Department of Health was slated to release details today of a nursing home visitation pilot in our state; instead, we will move quickly today to implement this new federal guidance," Gov. Edwards said. "We know these past several months have been tough, especially for our nursing home residents and their loved ones. It's time for us to do something. At the same time, we are still in the middle of a pandemic and these residents are among our most vulnerable. We all must do our part to make sure this new policy is successful. That means wearing our masks and staying six feet away from others, including when we visit our loved ones in nursing homes."
The no visitation policy on nursing homes has been in place since March.
CMS does recommend that nursing homes limit how many visitors a resident can have at one time, as well as limiting the number of visitors that can be in the facility at once.
According to numbers in a press release from Governor Edwards' office, there have been 2,225 nursing home deaths in Louisiana. That's 43.4% of all COVID-19 associated deaths in Louisiana. More than 10,000 COVID-19 cases among residents or staff have been reported by nursing homes in the state.
UPDATE: Governor John Bel Edwards announces today that he is adjusting his Phase 3 order to allow on premises alcohol sales to be sold until 11 p.m., one more hour than previously announced.
“I had a productive discussion this week with several restauranteurs and the Louisiana Restaurant Association and agreed that allowing the sale and service of alcohol until 11 p.m. for on premises consumption was a meaningful change we could make to the Phase 3 order to benefit restaurants that may have later service," says Gov. Edwards in a press release. "To be consistent, my updated order will allow casinos and bars in parishes where they are allowed to be open to also serve alcohol for on-site consumption until 11 p.m. However, opened bars will still be required to close at 11 p.m.,” Gov. Edwards said. “Limiting hours for alcohol consumption is designed to reduce the amount of higher risk behavior in the community. This change has been implemented in several states, including Colorado, and has also been recommended by the White House Coronavirus Task Force.”
Four parishes that are eligible have opted in so far: Acadia, Jefferson Davis, St. Landry and Plaquemines.
Now that the state of Louisiana has moved forward to Phase 3, one question remains: What are the guidelines?
Governor John Bel Edwards made the announcement today:
Businesses that have been operating at 50% capacity can now move to 75%. This includes the following:
- Restaurants, cafes and coffee shops
Shopping malls (including food courts, following restaurant guidance)
Gyms and fitness centers
Barber and beauty shops and nail salons
Racetracks (not open to spectators)
Museums (including children’s museums), zoos, aquariums (no tactile exhibits)
Bars and breweries with LDH food permits
Massage establishments, spas, and tattoo establishments (under strict guidance from LDH), esthetician services (under strict guidance from the Cosmetology Board)
Pool halls, bowling alleys and skating rinks (children must be accompanied by an adult)
Event Centers and wedding venues
Outdoor playgrounds and play centers (children must be accompanied by an adult)
Indoor Funerals and Weddings continued outdoor services with no crowd size limitation as long as social distancing is practiced.
Casinos and Video Poker Establishments will remain at 50% capacity (but limited to 75 percent of their gaming positions, with spacing to allow for social distancing and with enhanced sanitation).
Indoor events are limited to 50% capacity with up to 250 people, as well as with outdoor events.
Nursing home visits remain banned as well. LDH is finalizing plans for a pilot program that would allow outdoor visitations for nursing homes that are located in parishes with 5% positivity or less and zero cases in the last 14 days.
Bars WITHOUT LDH food permits: Parishes where positivity is 5% or below for two straight weeks can allow bars to open with 25% capacity with up to 50 people. Currently, only 5 out of 64 parishes meets that mark - Bienville, Jeff Davis, Orleans, St. John and Plaquemines. Local governments would have to approve or 'opt-in' before bars could open in those parishes. Only table side service seating will be allowed with no more than 50 customers outdoors. Bars will close by 11 p.m. People below the age of 21 will not be allowed in bars.
Alcohol will not be allowed to be served past 10 p.m.
LIVE MUSIC EVENTS are still prohibited.
High School football stadiums will be allowed to operate at 25% capacity.
The mask mandate remains in effect.
This Phase 3 order will last for 28 days, expiring October 9th.