SALEM, OR (KPTV)- The Department of Human Services says starting next week; if a long-term care facility meets specific requirements, it can begin allowing in-person visitors again.

For many people who live in a nursing home or assisted-living facility, getting through the pandemic has not been easy.

“It’s been hard. Even inside the facility, we have been eating in our rooms up until last week,” said resident Leah McGregor.

McGregor lives in an assisted-living facility in Salem. She says throughout the summer, she’s been able to have visits with family outside the building. But, with the seasons changing, she says, that’s not possible.

“I won’t be able to see my grandkids outside. It’s just too cold for them,” she said.

McGregor says that with social distancing, visiting with her fellow seniors has been a challenge.

“It’s almost impossible to have a conversation, so it’s lonely,” she said.

A press release from DHS says starting Monday, November 2, facilities can allow residents to have two visitors at a time inside the facility if they meet the criteria.

“I think being able to see your family and sit with them and talk to them is going to be very, very helpful to many people here,” said McGregor.

Long-term care facilities meeting DHS criteria able to allow in-person visitations again

Image provided to KPTV

DHS says the biggest criteria that must be met is that a facility must have no suspected or current COVID-19 cases, and it must be in a county with a low or medium positivity rate for the virus. That means the county must have a 10 percent positivity rate or lower.

DHS has also released a list of requirements during visitations, like staggering those visits, setting time limits, if needed, and cleaning and disinfecting regularly.

The news has been welcomed not only by residents but by some facilities themselves.

In a statement, Fee Stubblefield, the CEO of Springs Living, a senior living community, wrote:

“We welcome the Department of Health Services’ decision to allow visitors for our residents. It’s exactly what’s needed to balance their emotional well-being with their physical safety.”

Leah says now the challenge will be choosing which of her ten grandchildren get to visit at a time.

“I guess they’ll just have to draw straws or something,” she said.

Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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