Gov. Henry McMaster has requested that the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control “promptly” update visitation guidelines for nursing home and assisted living facility visitation to allow for in-person visitation.
“We are committed to protecting the physical, mental and emotional health of our elderly and at-risk people and their loved ones,” the governor wrote in a letter to DHEC Chairman Mark Elam today. “Although no policy or procedure can eliminate all possibility of risk, it is clear that the time has come to expand current rules to allow in-person visitation by immediate family members, loved ones or caregivers.”
The governor had restricted visitation to elderly care and assisted living homes on March 13 barring end-of-life circumstances following the first confirmed outbreaks of the new coronavirus in South Carolina, according to a news release. On June 26, the governor directed DHEC to draw up guidelines for reopening the residences to visitors, but delayed the release of those guidelines on July 2 in light of spikes in infection and hospitalization.
“Restricting visitation to our state’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities in March was a heartbreaking necessity,” McMaster wrote. “It was the most effective way to contain the spread of COVID-19 and to save the lives of our state’s elderly and at-risk residents.”