ALBANY, NY (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – The New York State Department of Health announced new guidelines on Friday, March 17 that affect visitors to nursing homes and the handling of the COVID-19 virus.

In an alignment with federal guidelines, nursing homes are no longer required to verify that visitors have a negative COVID-19 test before entry. The homes are also no longer required to conduct active screening, which requires visitors to fill in a questionnaire and have their temperature taken before entering.

The Department of Health did encourage facilities in counties with high levels of community transmission to offer testing to visitors or encourage visitors to test on their own within two to three days of visiting. They were also encouraged to continue passive screening, which included posted procedures for visitors with a positive test.

Nursing homes were advised to continue to follow infection control principles set forth by the Center for Disease Control, including frequent cleaning procedures and wearing CDC-recommended masks and personal protective equipment.