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Indoor visits in nursing homes soon coming to Central Georgia

Health officials have relaxed federal COVID-19 guidelines for nursing homes for the first time since September.

MACON, Ga. — Within days, Georgians could be visiting their loved ones in nursing homes across the state.

President Joe Biden said as nursing home vaccination rates increase and new COVID-19 cases continue to drop, most facilities should reopen with limits.

Angels Divine Personal Care Home in Macon has not had a visitor inside since last March.

“We let them in through the foyer -- that's the furthest they can go, or they can do a window visit,” said Administrator Patricia Hall.

Like the rest of the state, the pandemic forced the long-care facility to put safety measures in place.

“We've been COVID-free since March -- no one, no staff, no resident, nobody,” said Hall, but this week, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services expanded their visitation guidelines.

Some of the conditions to allow indoor visitors would include having at least 70% of nursing home residents vaccinated, and only doing this where counties positivity rates are less than 10%.

“They do need to see their family members, but they are elderly and we do need to keep them safe.”

Hall said as of now, only 2 out of 9 residents are vaccinated, disqualifying them for indoor visitation.

When the time does come, they plan to keep strict measures in place.

“They'll only be allowed in a certain area. They will still not have contact with the other residents.”

They want to remain a COVID-19-free facility.

“That's our goal, to keep them safe and keep our staff safe.”