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Tenn. nursing homes to open for visitors. Residents' emotional well-being a concern

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne)  --  Tennessee nursing homes will be permitted to open their doors to visitors on Monday, as long as they follow strict state visitation guidelines.

Nursing homes and long term care facilities have been locked down statewide since March in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Better than one-third of Tennessee’s 436 COVID-19 related deaths have taken place in nursing facilities.

Gov. Bill Lee told reporters Wednesday the facilities will be allowed to accept some visitors beginning next week if they agree to state protocols. They will be required to practice strict disinfection and testing guidelines. In addition, visitations must occur out of doors or behind protective barriers.

If the nursing home resident is confined to a room, visitation rules will be even more stringent. Visitors will be required to submit a negative coronavirus test in advance.

Nursing home or long term care facilities must complete coronavirus testing for every resident and staff member before opening their doors to visitors. Gov. Lee says those tests are on track for completion statewide by next week. The facilities must commit to ongoing weekly testing for all staff members thereafter.

Gov. Lee stressed that visitations are being permitted now because, while the physical health of residents is the top priority, their emotional well-being is also a concern.

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