Holiday Visits During COVID-19



The COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) has  

Have a happy holly  

been one of the greatest challenges you, as providers  

and as consumers and their families, have faced over  

jolly holiday 

the past nine months. We recognize and appreciate  

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the heavy physical and emotional burden each of you  

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personally continue to battle. 

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We have also seen the emotional impact that  

The Hansson Family 

separation from loved ones has had on all of you. As  

the holidays quickly approach and families make  

plans to come together, we ask you to continue to  

consider the risks to those we care for and about and  the steps we all should take to reduce the risk of  

contracting or spreading COVID-19, and encourage  

you to stay connected with each other through  

alternative means of communication whenever  



We also ask each of you to use extra caution during the holidays by following the same recommendations  for gathering with families and friends set forth by your local health department or county.  

Earlier this week in a press release, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) urged nursing  home staff, residents and visitors to follow established guidelines for visitation and adherence to the core  principles of infection control, including: 

  • Remaining six feet from others 
  • Wearing a face covering 
  • Limiting the number of visitors at any one time 

While these guidelines are directed at nursing homes, they are wise examples all of us can put into practice  as we celebrate. With the holiday season approaching, everyone wants to spend more time with their  loved ones. We recommend finding innovative ways of recognizing the holidays without having parties or  gatherings that could increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission (e.g., virtual parties or visits, etc.). 

We know some residents may want to leave a congregate setting temporarily to visit family and friends for  the holidays. While we support family engagement and every person’s right to visit family and friends,  everyone needs to work together to take extra precautions to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. In fact,  CMS recommends against residents leaving a nursing facility during this PHE. With the potential for a  safe and effective vaccine on the immediate horizon, extra precautions now in any setting are essential to  protect until a vaccine becomes available. 

We would like to share more recommendation from CMS that we can all consider: 

  • Limit close contact (maintain physical distancing of six feet or more), keep gatherings as small as  possible, and use technology to engage with others remotely; 
  • Always wear facemasks or cloth face covering (including in cars, homes, restaurants, etc.); • Limit contact with commonly touched surfaces or shared items; 
  • Keep safe around food and drinks. Avoid communal serving utensils, passing of food, potluck or  buffet style food service, and instead opt for individually prepared plates by a single server; • Perform hand hygiene often (e.g., wash hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand  sanitizer); 
  • Avoid large gatherings, crowded areas, and high-risk activities such as singing; • For those attending a gathering, avoid contact with individuals outside of their household for 14  days prior to the gathering; 
  • Ask anyone who has signs or symptoms of COVID-19, or has been exposed to someone diagnosed  with COVID-19, to not attend the gathering; 
  • If possible, conduct gatherings outdoors. Indoor gatherings should have good ventilation, open  windows and doors if possible; 
  • Verbally greet others instead of shaking hands or giving hugs. Think ahead about how you will  manage to prevent physical interactions with loved ones of different ages such as young children;  and 
  • Check local conditions and state requirements for precautions and restrictions, including positivity  rates and quarantine requirements, before crossing state lines. 

CMS has collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on these  recommendations, and we encourage you to review CDC’s webpage on holiday celebrations, which has  more suggestions for preventing the spread of COVID-19. 

Again, we want to express our sincere appreciation for everything you do to take care of those of us who  are less fortunate and face greater health risks during this pandemic. Even though this year’s holiday  celebrations will be undeniably different than years past, together we can still find safe ways to ensure an  enjoyable holiday season with family and friends. 

Wishing you all a happy and health holiday season, 

Laura Howard 

Secretary, Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services



Sharing on behalf of Developmental Disability Organization

Sedgwick County IDD Affiliates:

With the holidays approaching, the Sedgwick County Developmental Disability Organization (SCDDO)
wanted to reach out to providers about holiday celebrations and safety precautions. Our community is
currently experiencing a significant spike in COVID – 19 and our hospitals are at capacity. Ensuring the
safety of persons served is a foundational responsibility of all IDD providers. The Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention encourages virtual celebrations or limiting celebrations to members within the
same households. Health guidance indicates that large gatherings should be strongly discouraged.
Additionally, the current Sedgwick County Health Order places obligations on all businesses and
organizations in Sedgwick County to enforce the wearing of masks or other face coverings.
The SCDDO supports providers as they review situations and weigh how best to respect individuals’
rights while also ensuring safety. We understand that there is no simple solution and parents/guardians
may not agree with an agency’s safety precautions; however, our current situation requires difficult
choices. This is not about denying access to services but about being clear on expectations and spelling
out any safety precautions that will be implemented. Please also see the information provided by
KDADS Secretary Laura Howard regarding the holidays and waiver programs.\
If you have any questions or require additional information, feel free to contact Shelley Herrington or
Dee E. Nighswonger