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NY bans nursing home visitors due to coronavirus pandemic

NY bans nursing home visitors due to coronavirus pandemic

No visitors will be allowed in New York nursing homes due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday announced the prohibition and other measures to protect older New Yorkers who are vulnerable to contracting the respiratory illness. 

Nursing home staff will be required to wear masks, employees will be monitored for symptoms and no non-medical personnel will be allowed in the facilities. 

The prohibition on nursing home visitors will take effect at 5 p.m. Friday. 

"If you care about someone in a nursing home, the last thing you want is to endanger that person," Cuomo said. 

Nursing homes in Cayuga County were already preparing to restrict visitors due to the spread of the virus. Julie Sheedy, chief marketing of Loretto, which operates The Commons on St. Anthony in Auburn, told The Citizen before Cuomo's announcement that the facility would be closed to visitors "until further notice." 

Sheedy said Loretto's senior management has been meeting daily to discuss preparations. There are already strict procedures in place to address infections. 

With the ban on visitation, Loretto will coordinate communication between family members and residents. Residents can make phone calls or use iPads to FaceTime with their relatives. 

"Ensuring the safety and security of our residents is our top priority," Sheedy said. 

Matthew Chadderdon, vice president of marketing and public affairs for Auburn Community Hospital, said the hospital and its nursing home, Finger Lakes Center for Living, are prepared to respond if the virus spreads to Cayuga County. 

As of Thursday, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Cayuga County. 

Like Loretto, Finger Lakes Center for Living planned to prohibit visitors before Cuomo decided to ban nursing home visitation statewide. 

"Based on the advice and counsel of all the medical experts, we feel this is the responsible thing to do," Chadderdon said. 

While no visitors will be allowed at nursing homes, Chadderdon said there haven't been any changes to the hospital's visitation policy. If there are restrictions or a prohibition on visiting the hospital, then that will be communicated to the public. 

There is heightened concern about coronavirus spreading to nursing homes because of what occurred in Washington. Eighteen residents at a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington, died after contracting the virus. 

The number of coronavirus cases in New York continues to rise. As of Thursday, there are 109 new cases, including a handful of positive tests in upstate New York. 

There are 325 confirmed cases of coronavirus in New York, according to Cuomo's office. 

Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at auburnpub.com.

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