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Governor Lifts Nursing Home Restrictions

(2/26/2021) NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee released the following statement to accompany his signing of Executive Orders 77, 78 and 79:

“Our state’s COVID-19 numbers continue to improve thanks to efficient vaccine distribution and efforts to protect our most vulnerable citizens,” said Gov. Lee. “I have authorized continuation of a limited state of emergency through April 28th in order to keep critical healthcare deregulation in place and ensure continued federal funding compliance, and to lift state visitation restrictions on nursing home and long-term care facilities. To be very clear, my orders do not include any restriction on business. We will continue to focus on delivering vaccines to every corner of the state, ensuring kids get back in the classroom and building on our strong economic recovery.”

Gov. Lee also signed Executive Order Nos. 78 and 79, which extend through April 28th, provisions that allow for remote government meetings and shareholder meetings and permit remote notarization and witnessing of documents, all while implementing transparency safeguards.

The Tennessee Healthcare Association says anyone planning to visit a nursing home in Tennessee needs to keep in mind that there are still federal guidelines in place, and individual long-term care facilities can also implement their own visitation rules.

THCA has released the following statement regarding what to expect following the governor’s executive orders:

Tennessee’s Iong-term care facilities have done an incredible job under extremely difficult circumstances over the past year as residents have been unable to see loved ones because of COVID-related visitation restrictions. The Tennessee Department of Health has announced there will no longer be state-specific visitation guidance related to long-term care effective Feb. 28, 2021. However, Tennessee’s skilled nursing facilities are still required to follow visitation guidance from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and state licensed long-term care facilities – including assisted living, residential homes for the aged, and any nursing home not certified by CMS – have been encouraged by the state to reference the CMS guidance when developing their facility-specific visitation policies. Because the CMS guidelines are similar to the state’s guidelines and CMS is unlikely to change its guidance anytime soon, the state’s removal of state visitation restrictions will likely have little effect because the CMS guidelines remain in place. As case counts decline and vaccines become widely distributed and are proven effective, we hope the federal government will modify its guidance, as well. But even then, precautions must continue to be taken to keep COVID out of long-term care facilities and protect our state’s most vulnerable population.