Recently, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NDDHHS) announced looser visitation rules at nursing homes since the pandemic is getting under control.

 This week, the department went further and announced that it’s rescinding “Secretarial Order 6,” a comprehensive order that placed all sorts of restrictions on visitation at long-term care facilities across the state.

The change comes on the heels of newly released guidelines from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services, as well as from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those new guidelines reflect rapidly improving trends at long-term care facilities.

Across the country, one argument that’s been gaining steam is this: If you want people to get vaccinated, you need to show them hope of a better life after being vaccinated.  Some argue that forcing people to comply with pre-vaccination guidelines after getting vaccinated makes people ask themselves: “Well, what good is the shot if I have to continue living the same way as before?”

  In response to that concern, state and local governments across the nation are rescinding various orders that may have made sense when the infection rate was skyrocketing and community spread of the disease was everywhere.  Even though many health officials remain concerned about a new wave, they also want to make it known to the public that progress is being made.

“This action shows that our vaccination efforts are already having benefits,” stated NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen in a press release announcing the recension of the order. “I am grateful to all who have worked so hard to protect our most vulnerable residents and am so thankful that families and loved ones can be physically reunited.”

Visitation at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities had been driven outdoors, with many other visitation rules in effect.  Now, indoor visitation is allowed for all residents, regardless of vaccination status – except for a few cases when visitation may be limited due to high risk of coronavirus transmission in a specific facility.

 The state is still recommending that unvaccinated residents who wish to be vaccinated shouldn’t engage in indoor visitation until they’ve been fully vaccinated.

Also, now, new long-term care residents won’t be required to quarantine if they’re fully vaccinated and haven’t had close contact with someone with COVID-19 in the previous 14 days.  According to state health officials, now “vaccinated and non-immunocompromised health care providers with higher risk exposures who are asymptomatic also do not need to be restricted from work.”

State officials emphasize that it’s still wise to follow the COVID-19 safety practices that have been drilled into people’s heads for the past year.