Nursing homes await OK from state to implement CDC guidelines for fully vaccinated people

NOW: Nursing homes await OK from state to implement CDC guidelines for fully vaccinated people

BROOKFIELD, Wis. (CBS 58) - New US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines say people who are fully vaccinated could gather indoors with some groups of people without masks or physical distancing. The guidelines are causing excitement for some area nursing homes who have most of their residents vaccinated, but they can’t move forward just yet.

“We were all kind of going around to each other saying did you hear? Did you hear? We were very excited,” said Catherine Solakian, director of admissions and marketing at Congregational Home Brookfield.

Catherine Solakian says she heard a big shout of joy from residents and workers at Congregational Home in Brookfield who saw the news on their phones.

“It just breaks your heart when you have to see families see each other through a window,” she said.

Congregational Home is a long-term health facility. Solakian says they must follow Wisconsin DHS guidance before opening up more visitation for residents who are fully vaccinated.

“We are anxiously waiting for them to send down those guidelines,” says Solakian. “Anything that will move us forward and we can do full reunification, that’s always our goal in the end, and we just can’t wait for that to happen.”

The Wisconsin DHS tells CBS 58 they are still reviewing the CDC’s guidance, but should have something to share in the next few days.

The CDC says fully vaccinated people can visit other fully vaccinated people.

“In small gatherings, indoors, without wearing masks or physical distancing,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s just so exciting that we may actually be getting close to seeing some normalcy and seeing our residents hug their families,” Solakian adds.

Dr. Walensky says fully vaccinated people can also visit with unvaccinated people from one other household without masks or distancing indoors.

“As long as the unvaccinated people and any unvaccinated members of their household are not at high risk for severe COVID-19 disease," Dr. Walensky says.

“We want to open things up as quickly as possible to visitation so long as it’s done safely,” said Rick Abrams, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Health Care Association and Wisconsin Center for Assisted Living.

Abrams says while the CDC guidelines are a welcomed next step, they expect facilities to remain vigilant and still require masks and distancing for all visitors.

“At least until they can get to the privacy of that resident’s room, because they’re walking through common areas,” he said.

“That weight on their shoulders will instantly go away when they can hug each other and hold each other and be together again, and that’s priceless,” adds Solakian.

The CDC says fully vaccinated people should still wear a mask and keep their distance around people with increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or when seeing unvaccinated people from multiple households.

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