During his weekly COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday, Broome County Executive Jason Garnar touched on Governor Cuomo's plan to allow nursing homes across the state to allow visitation as early as the Friday, February 26th. Cuomo announced the guidelines for this on Monday. 

For counties with COVID-19 positivity rates below 5 percent on a 7-day rolling average, visitor testing is strongly encouraged and rapid tests may be utilized. Alternatively, visitors may provide proof of a completed COVID-19 vaccination no less than 14 days from the date of the visit and no more than 90 days prior to the visit.

Much like the rest of the state and the country, nursing homes in the area have had their fair share of positive cases, as well as being identified as "hot spots" throughout the course of the pandemic. Garnar says that it's important for the county and its residents to attack this new plan safely.

"This is our most vulnerable population, and we want to make sure that we're going to do this right." Says Garnar, "We believe it's important for this to happen, and we want to do it as safe as possible and what we don't want to do is increase the risk of this happening again. We do realize that visitation of loved ones in nursing homes is important, and we're pretty much working around the clock to make sure that we can make that happen."

The Department of Health recommends that visitors take a rapid test before entry into the facility, and DOH will provide rapid tests to nursing homes to facilitate their ability to test visitors on-site and at no cost. Visitation continues to depend on the nursing home facility being free of COVID-19 cases for 14 days and the facility is not currently conducting outbreak testing.