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Visitation in Residential Settings

ODP Announcement 20-066 has been updated to:

  • Explain “Level of Community Transmission” and its impact on visitation both in and outside of the Community or Life Sharing Home.
  • Provide guidance for developing visitation policies and best practices for visitation.
  • Explain the “Compassionate Care Exemption” (Appendix A).
  • Provide guidance on facilitating personal relationships when in-person visits are restricted.
  • Residential settings include licensed and unlicensed Community Homes (55 Pa. Code Chapter 6400) and licensed and unlicensed Family Living Homes (55 Pa. Code Chapter 6500).

ODP is making this update align with recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. These updates are due in part to the increasing number of individuals who are fully vaccinated. An individual is considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 ≥2 weeks after receipt of the second dose in a 2- dose series, or ≥2 weeks after receipt of a single-dose vaccine, per the CDC’s Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People.

Preventing the spread of COVID-19 continues to remain a priority. While according to the CDC’s Benefits of Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine, early data from clinical trials has shown that persons who have been fully vaccinated are less likely to get COVID-19 or become seriously ill if they do get COVID-19, individuals who are fully vaccinated can get COVID-19 and spread it to others. Preventing the spread of COVID-19 to people who are not fully vaccinated and are at an increased risk of becoming severely ill, remains a priority for the Department of Human Services. According to a study from Jefferson Health, individuals with an intellectual disability who are not fully vaccinated are at a substantially increased risk of dying from COVID-19.

As a result, ODP continues to recommend that providers, individuals, and families adhere to measures that have shown to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection, including physical distancing (maintaining at least 6 feet between people), mask wearing, and frequent hand washing. However, ODP is aware that separation and isolation has been extremely hard for individuals in residential settings. ODP understands that there is no substitute for physical contact, such as the warm embrace between a resident and their loved one. Therefore, if the resident is fully vaccinated, they can choose to have close contact (including touch) with their visitor. ODP continues to recommend that the resident and visitor wear a well-fitting face mask and perform hand-hygiene before and after close contact because individuals who are fully vaccinated can get COVID-19 and spread it to others. ODP also continues to recommend that providers encourage visitors to physically distance from other residents and staff in the residential setting.

For further updates, please read ODP Announcement 20-066, dated April 8, 2021.