Connecticut’s Democratic Governor Ned Lamont officially mandated that all nursing homes in the state must require visitors to show proof of vaccination for entry.
Issued in an executive order, Lamont said the highly contagious omicron variant is dangerous for the elderly.
“[T]he impact of COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes may be devastating based on the experience from prior COVID-19 surge periods where residents of nursing homes and persons over 65 experienced the highest morbidity rates,” the executive order read.
Lamont’s executive order also outlined that while nursing home residents do have the right to receive visitors and designate support persons and caretakers, it’s not unreasonable to ask these visitors to be vaccinated.
“[I]t is reasonable and necessary during the present spike in COVID-19 cases to require visitors to continue to wear a mask and show that they have received a booster vaccine, if eligible, or proof of a negative COVID-19 test to protect the public health of nursing home residents,” the order stated.
The requirement went into effect on Saturday, and Lamont released a statement with the news, explaining why he was imposing this requirement, Just the News reported.
“We know that some of the people who are most vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19 include those who live in nursing homes, which is why we need to be doing everything we can to protect them from this virus,” Lamont said in the statement. “This is one more precaution we can implement at these facilities to keep them safe.”
The Connecticut Department of Public Health will distribute antigen tests to nursing homes across the state, so visitors can be tested upon entry if needed, the press release from Lamont’s office said.
Despite Lamont’s reasoning that this new requirement will keep nursing home residents safe, earlier in the month he was actually asking nursing homes to take in COVID-positive patients, WTNH reported.
But nursing homes are already suffering from staffing shortages, so this was a difficult request.
“What they’re going to find is that this program is not going to work because we don’t have staff,” said Paul Liistro, chief executive officer of Manchester Manor and Vernon Manor — two nursing homes in the state.
David Hunter with Mary Wade Nursing Home said, “Our primary concern is keeping everyone within our campus safe from this virus.”
“Do we have the space to isolate? Do we have the staff to provide the staffing, the care for an isolated individual,” Hunter added.
But Lamont’s office explained that the reason they wanted to put positive COVID patients into nursing homes was to help hospitals from being overwhelmed while they assessed next steps to fix the problem.
“The purpose of this is to help DPH understand the constraints on the system which could lead to potential other actions, like the opening of recovery centers,” a spokesperson from the governor’s office said, WTNH reported.
Despite this move to put COVID-positive patients into nursing homes, Gov. Lamont still wants visitors to be vaccinated or tested negative before seeing their loved ones.