State health officials should allow outsoor visitations at nursing homes and long-term care facilities in order to increase the number of people who can see their loved ones, a group of Republican state lawmakers on Monday said.
The lawmakers, Sen. George Borello, Assemblyman Andy Goodell and Assemblyman Joe Giglio, wrote in a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo wrote that if implemented safely, the move would result in more visitors without spreading coronavirus at the facilities.
"Outdoor visitation will give more families the opportunity to safely visit with their loved ones, and it will reduce the bottleneck of visitation requests that will be created by the severe but necessary limits and restrictions on indoor visits," the lawmakers wrote in the letter. "There are widespread reports that residents, especially those with memory and cognitive degeneration, have felt abandoned by their families and friends."
The letter comes after New York health officials announced Friday the state would begin this week to allow limited nursing home visitations for facilities that have not had a recent coronavirus case and have put proper safeguards in place. Visits will be capped to two people at a time, and more person must be over the age of 18.
The state has estimated more than 6,000 nursing home residents have died during the pandemic. Visitations have been restricted at nursing homes since March.
"Since the middle of March, many have only been able to speak with their loved ones over the phone or on the other side of a window," the lawmakers wrote. "People need face-to-face interaction. It is hard enough that we cannot embrace those we love, especially those near the end of their life."