HARRISBURG — The state on Saturday issued updated guidance on the return of activities, visitation and other events for residents in nursing homes, personal care homes, assisted living residences and private intermediate care facilities.  

“We developed this guidance through collective input from residents and families, stakeholders, academia and facility representatives to allow safe visitations with strong public health measures to balance the mental and physical well-being of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable residents," state Secretary of Health Rachel Levine said in a news release.

Both the state Department of Health and state Department of Human Services will now require all long-term care facilities to meet prerequisites before proceeding into a three-step process of reopening:

— Post an implementation plan to a facility’s website, if it has a website.

— Administer tests within 24 hours of a resident showing COVID-19 symptoms and complete baseline testing.

— Develop a plan to allow visitation that includes scheduling and other safety measures.

— Develop a plan for cohorting or isolating residents diagnosed with COVID-19.

— Establish and adhere to written screening protocols for all staff during each shift, each resident daily, and all persons entering a facility.

— Have adequate staffing and supply of personal protective equipment.

— Be located in a county that is either in the yellow or green phase of reopening.

Once a facility meets the prerequisites, it will enter a three-step process of reopening:

Reopening steps

Step one: A facility must maintain no new COVID-19 cases among staff or residents and have no spread in the facility for 14 consecutive days in order to enter the next step.

Step two: Facilities must maintain no new cases of COVID-19 among staff or residents and have no spread in the facility for 14 consecutive days to move into the final step.

Step three: Facilities can operate as outlined for the remainder of the COVID-19 disaster declaration as long as there are no new cases among staff and residents for 14 consecutive days.

If a new COVID-19 case is known, facilities will cease implementing the reopening plan and wait until they have no new COVID-19 cases for 14 consecutive days before re-entering step one.

Visitations will only be allowed in steps two and three, as long as the facility determines a resident is able to safely see visitors and will prioritize those with diseases causing progressive cognitive decline and residents expressing feelings of loneliness.

For more information, go to www.health.pa.gov.