On Feb. 7, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a State Public Health Officer Order to amend its order on Dec. 31, 2021, about hospital and skilled-nursing facility (SNF) indoor visitation. In effect, yesterday’s order rescinds the increased requirements for indoor visitation that were imposed on a temporary basis in response to the omicron surge. The updated guidance for SNFs is reflected in All Facilities Letter (AFL) 22-07, which supersedes AFL 20-22.9, and provides guidance for group activities and communal dining based upon vaccination status of residents.
Starting today, hospitals and SNFs can revert to their pre-Dec. 31 policies and do the following:
- Verify that visitors are fully vaccinated
- For unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated visitors, verify documentation of a negative COVID-19 test. For antigen tests, the specimen collection must have occurred within one day of visitation, and within two days for PCR tests. Alternatively, the facility may accept documentation of recovery from COVID-19 within the prior 90 days.
Visitors who don’t meet these requirements may participate in outdoor visits only. However, if a resident is unable to leave their room or otherwise meet with visitors outdoors, visitation may take place in the resident’s room without the roommate present. The visitor and resident must wear a well-fitted mask with good filtration and physically distance.
Those who visit for multiple consecutive days can satisfy the requirements for negative testing by providing proof of a negative test every third day — that is, on day one, day four, day seven, etc. The following visitors are exempt from the vaccination/testing requirement:
- Visitors who are visiting a patient in critical condition when death may be imminent
- In emergent situations, parent or guardian visitors of pediatric patients; a support person for a labor and delivery patient; support persons for a patient with physical, intellectual, developmental disability, or cognitive impairment; and a person visiting for bonding visits including in-room stay with a newborn and hospitalized parent. For subsequent visits following the emergent situation and as soon as reasonably possible thereafter, but no longer than 72 hours, these visitors must comply with the vaccine verification or applicable testing requirements.
This order no longer requires SNFs to require vaccination and testing, as did the pre-Dec. 31 order.