Gov. Jay Inslee announced new rules on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, around nursing homes and assisted living facilities that focus on better protecting older adults – a population more likely to be hit by COVID-19 (coronavirus) – during the ongoing statewide, unprecedented health crisis.

Rule changes center around visitors, screening, and precautionary measures.

“The risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 appears to be higher in people 60 years or older and in those with chronic health conditions,” Inslee said. “And we know there is an increased risk among people while live in congregated settings, such as long-term care facilities. We need to protect our older adults, and these rules will help.”

Cheryl Strange, secretary at the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, joined the governor during the Olympia press conference.

Rules that go into effect as of Tuesday, March 10, 2020:

    • Visitors must be adults and the visit must take place in the resident’s room. This does not apply to end-of-life situations.
    • All visitors must follow COVID-19 screening and follow reasonable precautionary measures. Precautionary measures include, but are not limited to, wearing personal protective equipment, social distancing, or visiting in designated locations.
    • All visitors must sign into a visitor’s log. Owners and operators must retain that log for 30 days.
    • Employees or volunteers must be screened for COVID-19 symptoms at the start of each shift.
    • People who live in nursing homes or assisted living facilities and who test positive for COVID-19 must be isolated away from other people.
    • Owners, operators, staff and volunteers are prohibited from disclosing protected and confidential health information, except as otherwise provided by law or with the resident’s consent.

These rules remain in effect until midnight on April 9, 2020.

Inslee declared a state of emergency earlier this month because of COVID-19.

Here’s video of Inslee’s full press conference held Tuesday morning: