As part of the state’s reopening plan, Missouri will be giving long term care facilities much more flexibility to allow outdoor visits and visits through an open window or communal dining and group activities for residents who cannot leave their rooms.

According to DHSS, the long-term care facility guidance will be a “phased-in approach that will take into consideration many factors including the current status of COVID-19 in the community and current status of COVID-19 in the facility. In addition, other facility-specific guidance will likely be included in the reopening plan in line with guidance released from CMS.”   

“Since the underlying health conditions of residents in these facilities make them more vulnerable to COVID-19, the full reopening of all facilities will occur gradually and in phases. However, in order to allow facility residents a form of in-person visitation with family members and loved ones until a facility can fully reopen, the State will ease restrictions to allow for outside and window visitation at long-term care facilities assuming proper social distancing protocols and other criteria are being met.”

For instance, DHSS suggests a facility can consider visits if it has not had any COVID-19 staff or resident cases, or it has been two incubation periods (28 days total) since the last positive COVID-19 case acquired at the facility.

Outdoor visits are suggested for residents who do not have the virus or not suspected to have it or are recovered.

Social distancing and CDC-approved hygiene practices are still suggested.

Residents and patients in Missouri’s long-term care and skilled facilities have been some of the most vulnerable to COVID-19 and its spread. According to state health officials, 222 Missouri long-term care facilities have reported at least one case among staff or residents.

The state health department says Missouri ranks below national averages for cases per 1,000 residents, resident deaths and nursing staff cases per 1,000 residents. This was considered along with a 43 percent decrease in hospitalizations in Missouri since May 1 and increased testing rates.