CMS Update Guidance for Visitation for Long Term Care Facilities

03.29.2021 Written by Angela Rinehart

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued new guidance for visitation at long-term care facilities on March 10, 2021. In March 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, CMS issued guidance to facilities on restricting visitation, except in certain situations. These guidelines focus on protecting nursing home residents from the deadly coronavirus but realize that residents are feeling socially isolated and even depressed due to the lack of in-person visits with family members and loved ones.

In considering the impact that vaccinations have had thus far since their authorization, CMS updated its guidance for visitation due, in part, to millions of nursing home residents and staff having been vaccinated. Screening of all visitors is still highly recommended for anyone who has signs or symptoms of the virus as well as those who have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 in the prior 14 days, regardless of whether or not they have been vaccinated.


Outdoor visitation remains preferred, regardless of vaccination status due to posing a lower risk of transmission. As for indoor visitation, the updated guidelines recommend that facilities allow for indoor visitation for all residents, except for:

  • Unvaccinated residents, if the nursing home’s COVID-19 county positivity rate is >10% and <70% of residents are fully vaccinated;
  • Residents with confirmed COVID-19 infection, regardless of vaccination status; and
  • Residents in quarantine, regardless of vaccination status.

CMS continues to recommend facilities adhere to the core precautions of social distancing, mask wearing, and hand-hygiene.


The updated guidance provides specific recommendations if a new onset of COVID-19 cases occurs among residents or staff of the nursing home. This guidance includes:

  • Outbreak testing upon identification of a new case and suspending all visitation until completed;
  • If no additional cases are identified, visitation can resume for areas/units with no cases; visitation should be suspended where the active case is located; and
  • If additional cases are identified, visitation should be suspended for all residents.

Finally, the updated guidance encourages all visitors to be vaccinated when they are able, but states that no visitor should be required to be vaccinated in order to visit a nursing home resident.

You can view the entire updated guidance here.

Katz Korin Cunningham's team of long-term care attorneys is available to assist you during these unprecedented times. Do not hesitate to contact us:

Norris Cunningham 317-396-2562

Katie Cordell 317-396-2549

Christina Essex 317-396-2571

Angela Rinehart 317-396-2591

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