NEW YORK (WWTI) — New guidelines are in place at nursing homes across New York State.

Earlier this week, the New York State Department of Health issued a health advisory to nursing home administrators, enacting new requirements for staff and visitors.

Effective January 12, all nursing homes licensed and regulated by the DOH must require visitors to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Proof must be provided one day prior to visitation for antigen test and two days prior for NAAT tests.

For those who visit multiple days, including those who come to a facility every day, proof of a negative test is required as often as possible, but a minimum of every three days.

Facilities will be permitted to conduct onsite testing of visitors. Records of COVID-19 tests must be made available upon request to the local health department and the New York State Department of Health.

The State also shipped COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Tests to every nursing home in the week of January 3, 2022, with shipments arriving by January 10, 2022. These can be provided to a visitor if they do not have proof of a negative test.

Testing exemptions will be made in end-of-life situations or in the instance of significant mental, physical or social decline or crisis of a resident. In these cases, all visitors must wear any additional personal protective equipment required by the facility.

Nursing home visitors will also be required to wear a well-fitting non-surgical paper mask or mask fo higher quality at all times during any visitation. Visitors will be permitted to wear a cloth mask over any paper mask, but these must cover both the nose and mouth.

Facilities will require physical distancing for visitors from facilities personnel and other patients, residents and visitors that are not directly associated with the specific resident being visited.

The DOH also is continuing to require all personnel to be up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccinations and all staff to be masked at all times regardless of vaccination or booster status. Staff are recommended to wear N95 respirators, especially in facilities where residents are unable to consistently wear face masks.

According to the Department of Health, these new guidelines were issued due to the current Omicron COVID-19 outbreak throughout the State.