Limited nursing home visits restarting from COVID-19 pause

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey families with loved ones in nursing homes can begin seeing one another again amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the state health commissioner said Friday.

Commissioner Judy Persichilli said the reunions could begin to take place on Father's Day, but facilities must adhere to several requirements. Those include that reunions must take place at designated outdoor areas, masked staff members must also be in attendance and residents and family must sign a consent form acknowledging that possible exposure to coronavirus can occur.

New Jersey's nursing homes have been hard hit by the virus, with nearly half of the deaths from COVID-19 occurring in long-term care facilities.

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy reported on Friday there were 37 more deaths statewide, putting the toll at 12,835. There were more than 500 positive tests in the same period, for a statewide total of over 168,000.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness or death.

A look at other developments:

DEATH CERTIFICATE REVIEWS

Thousands of death certificates are under review by state health officials to determine if the deaths were caused by COVID-19, Murphy said.

Murphy said the review is aimed at getting a true picture of the toll of the virus, adding that changes would be made if there was a “high degree of certainty” the death stemmed from coronavirus.

“As we do this it will increase our overall toll significantly,” he said. “We do this with no sense of pride but with a sense of duty and closure."

He said the results of the review would be ready next week.