Inslee releases virus guidelines for nursing home visitors

SEATTLE (AP) — Calling it a “big step forward,” Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday announced how visitors may return to nursing homes and other long term care facilities — six months after the country’s first major known coronavirus outbreak devastated a Kirkland facility.

“This is a joyous celebration, in my view, of families being able to be together again,” Inslee said at a news conference.

The state is issuing a four-phase guideline on visitation that encourages outdoor meetings and correlates with the governor’s four-phase county reopening plan. Nearly all care facilities in the state are in the first phase for visitation, which allows for compassionate, window, remote and outdoor visits.

Washington state has had more than 60,000 confirmed coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic and more than 1,620 deaths. State authorities said earlier this week that roughly 10% of virus cases are linked to long-term care facilities, but more than half of the fatalities are associated with such operations.