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Politics & Government

More In-Person Nursing Home Visits Now Allowed

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The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is once again allowing in-person visits at nursing homes across much of the state. That’s at the same time Governor Gretchen Whitmer says cases across the state are increasing at an alarming rate.

“We know that more people will get sick,” she said. “We know more people will get hospitalized, and, sadly, more people will lose their battle with COVID-19.”

But her Health and Human Services director, Robert Gordon, said in a separate interview that nursing home patients are suffering without contact with family and friends. Gordon says the onset of winter will soon make outdoor visits impractical.

“We have heard from nursing home residents about the intense need for human connection,” he said. “At the same time, we know cases are rising, outbreaks in nursing homes are rising, so we need to do this very carefully and very responsibly.”

The order only allows visits at facilities in counties deemed “low risk.” The home must also have no new cases reported within the past 14 days.

Gordon called developing visitation plans “a very tricky balance.”

“We are opening indoor visitation in a very limited way with required testing. We do think it’s a step forward,” he said. “It may not be as much as some people wanted. But we think that to protect lives it’s the right step right now.”

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