It's been a long time coming, but the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced new guidance encouraging all Iowa long-term care facilities to allow visitors for all residents.

According to Iowa's News Now, new guidance suggests "Iowa long-term care facilities should allow indoor visitation at all times and for all residents regardless of the vaccination status of the resident or visitor."

Iowa is expected to approach or exceed 1 million vaccinated residents this week, and KCRG says 139,142 of them have been administered at long-term care facilities. The pandemic that continues into its second year has been tough for families with loved ones in these facilities that have not been able to enjoy personal visits.

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However, Kelly Garcia, Director of the Department of Human Services and Department of Public Health interim director, says there are a few scenarios that might still limit visitation:

  • Unvaccinated residents, if the COVID-19 county positivity rate is greater than 10 percent and less than 70 percent of residents in the facility are fully vaccinated;
  • Residents with confirmed COVID-19 infection, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, until they have met the criteria to discontinue transmission-based precautions;
  • Residents in quarantine, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated until they have met the criteria for release from quarantine.

Garcia goes on to say

Spending time with loved ones and seeing them in person is critical to overall well-being. This past year has been incredibly challenging and hard on older Iowans and their loved ones. This is great news and one more step closer to normal

Included in this guidance is the allowance for "compassionate care" visits, which include visits for a resident whose health has sharply declined or is experiencing a significant change in circumstances. At least one facility, in Guthrie Center, was fined last year for not allowing a proper end-of-life visit for a family who lost their loved one who was a resident there.

LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.