State health department releases guidance allowing visitors at residential care facilities

DENVER – The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) released guidance today allowing outdoor visitation at residential care facilities. This guidance allows visitors at residential care facilities while minimizing the potential spread of COVID-19. The state decided to implement this guidance now since disease rates in the state are low.

The department sought and incorporated feedback from the public and stakeholders before finalizing the guidance. The guidance states that:

  • The facility cannot have outdoor visitation if the facility had any recent positive cases or outbreaks and has not completed the required isolation period of 14 days. Facilities with active cases are not allowed to offer visits. 
  • All visits must be scheduled. Prior to the visits, facilities must provide information about COVID-19, and instructions for self-screening on the day of the visit, social distancing and mask-wearing, and details about the visit.
  • The visitor must be greeted outside at a designated area by facility staff, and the staff member will perform temperature check and symptom screening in accordance with current CDC guidelines. Visitors with symptoms in the previous 14 days should not be allowed visitation. Residents who are in isolation or quarantine related to COVID-19 or have symptoms related to COVID-19 may not participate in outdoor visitation.
  • All visitors must wear a face mask or cloth face covering. All staff and the resident must wear a surgical or cloth mask unless doing so would inhibit the resident’s health.  
  • Visitors must supply name and contact information to facilities for contact tracing.
  • Facilities must establish a separate designated meeting area outdoors for these visitations. The facility should ensure that residents not participating in visits continue to have access to outdoor space. This area must be monitored to ensure it remains separated from the facility population and staff. 
  • There can be no more than eight people (including resident, staff, and visitors) in the gathering, or the number determined by using the Social Distancing Calculator, whichever is smaller. The allowable number of visitors should be documented in the visitation plan. 
  • Furniture used for external visits should be appropriately cleaned and disinfected between visits.
  • Each facility must document their outdoor visitation policies and add it to their isolation plan.  

“We know that these restrictions – and the resulting isolation – have been hard on the residents in these facilities,” said Randy Kuykendall, Director of the Health Facilities and EMS Division at CDPHE. “But we know the restrictions, while hard, helped minimize the impact of outbreaks. Because of the success of our collaborations between state and local health departments and residential care facilities in the state, we are pleased to offer some safe ways for residents to receive visitors.”

While outdoor visitation is currently allowed, the state may decide to amend this guidance if there is an increase in cases and the epidemiological data suggests that visitation is no longer safe. Outdoor visitation will not be allowed if the facility has an outbreak or if the community is under a Stay-At-Home order. 

This guidance applies to outdoor visitation and does not address compassionate care visits, such as end-of-life situations. Following CDC guidance, compassionate care visits have been allowed on a case-by-case basis and should include careful symptom screening to prevent transmission of COVID-19. 

Public health orders establish requirements that Coloradans must follow while guidance documents provide clear instructions for how businesses and individuals can comply with the public health orders.  Continue to stay up to date by visiting covid19.colorado.gov.

State health department releases guidance allowing visitors at residential care facilities