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Is it safe to visit loved ones in a healthcare facility?

Visiting loved ones in a healthcare facility can be safe if proper precautions are taken, but it depends on several factors including the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic, the policies of the specific facility, and the health status of both the visitor and the resident. While the CDC updated its Covid-19 guidelines in March, 2024, these new rules did not apply to health care facilities. Here are some guidelines and considerations before you visit a loved one who is receiving care:

General Guidelines

  1. Check Facility Policies
    • Contact the Facility: Before visiting, contact the healthcare facility to and ask about their current visitation policies. Many facilities have specific rules in place to protect residents and staff, which can change based on the local COVID-19 and other virus transmission rates.
  2. Vaccination Status
    • Vaccinated Visitors: Being fully vaccinated significantly reduces the risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Some facilities might require proof of vaccination for visitors.
    • Unvaccinated Visitors: If you are not vaccinated, you may face some restrictions or be required to undergo testing before visiting.
  3. Screening and Testing
    • Symptom Screening: Many facilities screen visitors for symptoms of COVID-19 and may check temperatures upon entry.
    • COVID-19 Testing: Some facilities require a negative COVID-19 test result before allowing visitors.
  4. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
    • Masks: Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth at all times within the facility.
    • Hand Hygiene: Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer, especially before and after your visit.
  5. Physical Distancing
    • Maintain Distance: Keep a safe distance from residents and staff whenever possible, typically at least 6 feet.
  6. Visit Timing and Duration
    • Appointment-Based Visits: Many facilities schedule visits to limit the number of people in the facility at one time.
    • Short Visits: Limit the duration of your visit to reduce potential exposure.

Special Considerations for COVID-19

  1. Community Transmission Rates
    • Local COVID-19 Rates: Be aware of the COVID-19 transmission rates in the community. Higher rates may lead to more restrictive visitation policies.
  2. Facility Outbreaks
    • Current Outbreaks: If the facility is experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19 or other infectious diseases, visitation may be restricted or prohibited.
  3. Health Status of the Resident
    • Vulnerable Populations: It's important to consider the health and vulnerability of your loved one. Elderly individuals or those with underlying health conditions are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Recommendations from Health Authorities

  • CDC: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides guidelines for visiting healthcare facilities, emphasizing vaccination, mask-wearing, and hand hygiene. The CDC also advises facilities to implement strategies to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19, such as visitor screening and limiting the number of visitors.
  • CMS: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issues guidance for visitation in nursing homes, balancing the need for family interaction with the need to protect residents from COVID-19.


Visiting loved ones in a healthcare facility can be done safely if you follow the facility’s guidelines and public health recommendations. Ensure you are vaccinated, adhere to all PPE requirements, maintain physical distancing, and be aware of the local COVID-19 situation or any other virus that may be circulating. Always check with the facility before your visit to understand their specific policies and any additional precautions you need to take.

This article was written and edited by the Tayo editorial desk and has been reviewed by an independent panel of subject matter experts.

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