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UPDATE 12:41 p.m.:

A press release from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission states the governor has directed the agency to expand visitation options at nursing homes, and that its "updated emergency rules will allow a designated essential caregiver to provide supportive, hands-on care to facility residents who do not have COVID-19."

The governor's directive to resume nursing home visits goes into effect Sept. 24, he said in a press conference today, Thursday, Sept. 17.

According to the HHSC release, residents will be allowed to designate up to two essential family caregivers who will be trained to safely go inside a facility for a scheduled visit, including in the resident’s room, so their loved one’s physical, social and emotional needs are being met.

The designated caregivers won't have to maintain physical distancing, but only one caregiver can visit a resident at a time, the release indicated.

The nursing home resident can choose the designated caregivers, who can be a family member, friend or other individual. Families will need to train them on use of personal protective equipment and other infection controls. PPE will have to be used during visits and the caregiver must test negative for the coronavirus within 14 days before the visit.

Other visitors who aren't designated essential caregivers will still have to refrain from physical contact and visit during scheduled times and with clear barriers between them and residents, according to the release.

Nursing home visitation will be expanded under the new guidelines in all but the hardest-hit areas of the state, the governor said.

INITIAL REPORT 12:19 p.m.:

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced today, Thursday, Sept. 17, that nursing homes will be permitted to allow essential caregiver visits starting Sept. 24 in most areas of the state.

Nursing homes and long-term care facilities allowing visits will still need to follow certain safety precautions, the governor said, and can't have an outbreak of the pandemic coronavirus.

This report will be updated.

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