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Those antsy to hug a friend or relative in a nursing home might have to wait a bit longer.

Patrick Driggers, administrator at Pecan Tree Rehabilitation and Healthcare, said despite last week’s announcement by Gov. Greg Abbott that nursing homes could begin allowing visitation beginning Thursday, Sept. 24, that’s not going to be the case at the 122-bed facility he oversees.

“HHSC [Texas Health and Human Services Commission] has not provided the appropriate guidance at this time,” Driggers told the Register on Wednesday, Sept. 23.

He said reopening guidance that was provided by the state contradicts the federal guidance his facility has been following.

“We do have a tentative timeline we are sharing with some our families,” Driggers said. However, he did not disclose that timeline to the Register. He did say the state is providing necessary training Friday, Sept. 25.

According to a press release issued last week from the HHSC, “residents will be allowed to designate up to two essential family caregivers who will be provided necessary training to allow them to safely go inside a facility for a scheduled visit, including in the resident’s room, to help ensure their loved one’s physical, social and emotional needs are being met. Designated caregivers will not be required to maintain physical distancing, but only one caregiver can visit a resident at a time.”

Driggers said masks are mandatory for anyone inside the facility and that his facility is required to train visitors on the proper use of personal protective equipment, as well as provide it.

The visitor must also test negative for the coronavirus within the previous 14 days before the initial visit, according to the HHSC.

Driggers said he is excited to welcome families back, while adding his facility handles “the most vulnerable population there is.”

He said the coronavirus has caused “severe tragedy” in skilled nursing homes across the nation and “that’s why we are so conscientious.”

Driggers said even though the state is allowing visitation inside, he still would like to push for outside visits as much as possible.

“We miss the families as much as they miss their loved ones,” Driggers said. “... We strive for the safest options for our residents and our community.”

There are currently 85 residents and about 100 staff at the 122-bed facility at 1900 E. California St., he said.

According to Driggers, none of the senior living facility’s residents have tested positive for the coronavirus. When asked if some of his staff tested positive, he declined to comment.

Cathy Lloyd, administrative assistant with Cooke County Judge Jason Brinkley’s Office, said Wednesday afternoon that there were no retirement home addresses on her list of active coronavirus cases as of Tuesday evening, Sept. 22. She also said there were two people hospitalized outside the county with the virus that are counted in the county’s statistics.

Through Tuesday, there were 33 active coronavirus cases in Cooke County, according to a tally county officials released Wednesday.

There have also been six reported coronavirus-related fatalities. A total of 419 cases have been recorded, counting active, recovered and fatal cases.

As of press time Wednesday, there were 6,925,840 reported cases of the coronavirus nationwide and 201,617 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University & Medicine. In Texas, there were 742,264 reported cases and 15,238 deaths.

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