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Arizona Families Will Soon Be Allowed Back Inside Long-Term Care Facilities

Arizona families with loved ones in long-term care facilities will soon be allowed to visit them — possibly as early as next week.

The Task Force on Long-Term Care met Tuesday and moved ahead with several recommendations that would allow visitors inside.

More than five months have passed since families have been allowed inside long-term care facilities. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities had restricted visits due to the coronavirus pandemic. Dana Marie Kennedy is the state director of AARP Arizona. Her organization helped bring the idea of a task force to Gov. Doug Ducey’s attention. 

"I've never fought so hard for anything in my career. And this last, you know, six months — or shy of six months — has been agonizing. And I feel an enormous responsibility to these families."

Visitors will have to meet certain conditions, such as providing a negative covid test that’s less than 48 hours old, mandatory face coverings and adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Also at the meeting was the state’s long-term care ombudsman announced that they would resume visits of covid-free facilities starting Sept. 1. 

In a statement, the Governor's Office said the following after the task force approved the recommendations: 

“The Governor’s Office appreciates the ongoing work of the Task Force on Long-Term Care. Arizona is committed to protecting our seniors and most vulnerable during this pandemic, and finding a safe way to make sure they can remain in contact with their loved ones. There's more work to do, and we will continue to work with the stakeholders on a plan that puts Arizonans’ health and safety first.”

→  Get The Latest News On COVID-19 In Arizona 

KJZZ senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.