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New guidance directs long-term care facilities to limit exposure of residents to COVID-19

March 10, 2020

In consultation with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) is using the authority of Governor Brown’s emergency order to issue a policy to limit exposure to COVID-19 at long-term care facilities. DHS is taking this action to protect older adults, Oregonians who are at greater risk of the most severe outcomes of this disease.

“Oregonians in our nursing homes are particularly vulnerable to this disease,” said OHA director Patrick Allen. “We are working in close partnership with long-term care facilities and asking families, friends, and others who work in and visit these facilities to help us protect the health and safety of our parents, grandparents and other loved ones.”

The guidance directs nursing, assisted living and residential care facilities, including those providing memory care, to:

  • Restrict visitation to only essential individuals;
  • Limit essential visitors to two per resident at a given time;
  • Screen all permitted visitors for respiratory or other symptoms potentially indicating COVID-19 and for recent travel to an affected geographic area or high-risk setting prior to entering the facilities;
  • Document the screenings for all visitors;
  • Limit community outings; and
  • Support residents’ access to socialization when visitors are not able to enter the facility through virtual visits.

"We are committed to working with long-term care providers on prevention and preparedness to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19," said DHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht. “The new visitation restrictions are an additional preventative step we can take to protect older adults and Oregonians with underlying chronic medical conditions, and people who are immunocompromised, who are most at risk. We realize the hardship these restrictions may cause for residents and family members, and appreciate everyone’s partnership in protecting this vulnerable population.”

Oregon Health Care Association (OHCA) supports the guidance and recommendations for long-term care providers issued today by the Department of Human Services and the Oregon Health Authority, said Linda Kirschbaum, SVP of Quality Services at the OHCA. “Long-term care providers are doing everything they can to stop the virus from entering their communities. Limiting the number of people moving through communities is a critical part of those precautions. Since the first case was confirmed in the U.S., long-term care providers have been following their state-approved emergency preparedness and infection prevention plans and protocols to limit risk and exposure to residents in their communities. Screening visitors has been a part of these protocols from day one.”

OHA continues to recommend that older adults and people with underlying conditions take the following steps to stay safe and healthy:

  • Minimize contact with people who may be ill.
  • Avoid large public gatherings.
  • Order prescriptions by mail.
  • Take daily precautions:
    • wash your hands frequently,
    • don’t touch anywhere on your face, and
    • clean surfaces.

For more information:

 Media contact

Allyson Hagen

OHA External Relations


Elisa Williams

DHS Communications


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