The North Carolina legislature and governor agree that hospital patients and long-term care residents should be allowed visitors even in a pandemic.

Two bills guaranteeing visitation for hospital patients and long-term care residents that passed the state House and Senate without a single nay vote were recently signed by Gov. Roy Cooper, making them law.

An all-to-frequent horror story heard during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic was of people dying in long term care facilities and hospitals all alone without the benefit of family members or clergy present.

The legislature and Cooper were unanimous in their belief that this was wrong and that laws needed to be put in place to make certain that it didn’t happen in the future.

Two bills passed the legislature and were signed by Cooper to ensure that, even during an emergency, patients and those in long term care facilities can have visits from family and clergy.

House Bill 351, known as “Clifford’s Law,” ensures that nursing home and long-term care residents are allowed a visitor at least twice a month during declared disasters and emergencies.

Rep. Jimmy Dixon (R-Duplin), the primary sponsor of the bill, said in a press release, “We have all heard the stories or experienced loved ones in long-term care who have suffered immensely due to isolation because of COVID-19 visitation restrictions. Clifford’s Law will ensure families have access to their loved ones, which is vital to the mental health and well-being of long-term care residents.”

 “Jeff Rieg Law,” more formally House Bill 447, gives patients the right to have a clergy member visit them in the hospital.

Rep. Keith Kidwell (R-Beaufort), the primary sponsor of the bill, said, “This is a significant and meaningful piece of legislation that upholds the religious freedoms and liberties of North Carolinians.”