COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV) – Gov. Henry McMaster has asked public health officials to issue guidelines making it a possibility for visitations at South Carolina’s long-term care facilities to resume.
Back in March, the governor restricted visitations, with the exception of end of life situations, due to COVID-19 concerns.
McMaster first directed the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to develop guidelines for reopening near the end of June. But a week later, he asked DHEC to delay the release of the guidelines amid the state’s rising rate of infections and hospitalizations.
“Restricting visitation to our state’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities in March was a heartbreaking necessity. 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,” the governor wrote in a letter to DHEC Chairman Mark Elam Friday, calling for guidelines.
According to DHEC, in the last 30 days, there have been 1,239 residents at nursing homes or assisted living facilities test positive for COVID-19; 211 have died from it.
That’s about 28% of the total cases and 23% of the total deaths reported at these homes since April 3 (when DHEC began collecting this data).
“We are committed to protecting the physical, mental and emotional health of our elderly and at-risk people – and their loved ones,” the governor continued in his letter.
“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,” he wrote.