HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Gov. Ned Lamont rescinded emergency orders Monday that had banned most visits at nursing homes amid the coronavirus pandemic, and the state’s Health Department issued new relaxed guidelines.
The move will allow indoor visits to resume with certain conditions on screening, social distancing and hygiene.
Dr. Deidre Gifford, the acting health commissioner, said the conditions, which include limiting visitors to one per patient at a time, are based on new guidance from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
“Making the decision to limit in-person visits at nursing homes is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do as governor, but amid the outbreak of this pandemic that is impacting the lives of so many people in our senior population, I knew it was the right thing to do,” Lamont said in a statement. “Each facility is strongly urged to develop a visitation plan and strictly adhere to it to the greatest extent possible so that we can keep this virus from spreading and impacting our most vulnerable patients.”
The new visitation guidelines also allow increased access to nursing homes for health care workers, social workers, clerics, hairdressers and volunteers.
In other news related to the coronavirus pandemic:
A state Superior Court judge began hearing motions Monday in a lawsuit that alleges Connecticut’s requirement that children wear masks in school is harmful.
A group called the CT Freedom Alliance, which includes some parents of schoolchildren, is seeking an injunction that would strike down requirements from Lamont and the state Department of Education.
The plaintiffs argue that wearing masks is dangerous and damaging to the health, safety and emotional well-being of children and does not prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The state argues that it is following federal guidelines and that studies show masks are important in helping prevent the virus from traveling into the air and from one person to another.
Hartford Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher heard evidence Monday related to the qualifications of a proposed expert witness for the plaintiffs.
Dr. James Meehan is an Oklahoma Ophthalmologist who has written that wearing masks could harm children by reducing oxygen intake.
Assistant Attorney General Darren Cunningham pointed out that Meehan has made money by advocating taking sponsored nutritional supplements as an alternative to prevent the spread of the virus.