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South Carolina nursing homes now required to offer visitation with few limitations

The state has now rolled back most of the rules restricting nursing home visits.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina health officials are now requiring all nursing homes and assisted living facilities to offer visitation with few exceptions.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) said Friday they must offer outdoor and/or indoor visitation, based on new guidelines. 

These newly updated visitation guidelines follow federal guidance released on March 10.

As of now, facilities are required to allow visitation at all times and for all residents. However, there are circumstances involving a high risk of COVID-19 transmission when facilities should limit indoor visitation for specific residents, as outlined below.

  • Unvaccinated residents: if the facility’s COVID-19 county positivity rate is greater than 10 percent and less than 70 percent of residents in the facility are fully vaccinated
  • Residents with confirmed COVID-19 infection, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, until they have met the criteria to discontinue Transmission-Based Precautions
  • Residents in quarantine, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, until they have met criteria for release from quarantine
  • A new case of COVID-19 is identified, a facility must suspend indoor visitation pending the results of a round of facility-wide testing

Prior to these updated guidelines, 177 facilities reported they were not allowing visitation based on previous visitation guidelines.

Vaccinations of Long-term Care Residents and Staff
As of Friday, 100 percent (193 out of 193) of the state’s nursing homes have had their first and second COVID-19 vaccination clinics completed, and 95 percent (185 of 193) of their final third clinics completed. A total of 98 percent (485 of 495) of the state’s assisted living facilities have had their first vaccination clinic completed and 93 percent (462 of 495) have had their second clinic completed, with final third clinics occurring or scheduled as well.

In total, more than 65,000 doses (first and second) of COVID-19 vaccine have been given to our state’s roughly 40,000 long-term care facility residents, and more than 39,900 doses (first and second) have been given to the approximately 40,000 workers who care for them.

While the public should assume their loved one’s facility has outdoor and indoor visitation, DHEC strongly recommends contact the nursing home or assisted living facility to confirm its visitation status prior to planning a visit. Anyone with concerns that a facility isn’t properly following the new visitation guidelines can submit a complaint to DHEC, and the agency will follow-up.

You can view the current visitation status of all nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the state online here. Because this visitation reporting is updated weekly, beginning the week of March 30, the dashboard will begin reflecting each facility's visitation status in accordance with the updated visitation guidance announced Friday.