Some COVID rules will remain for nursing facilities, even as Arizona relaxes its restrictions

COVID-19 restrictions are falling by the wayside as more Arizonans get vaccinated, and that includes rules surrounding long-term care facilities, which were hit hard during the pandemic.

On April 1, Governor Doug Ducey rescinded several restrictions for these facilities, including restrictions on visitations, in addition to mandatory symptom checks and protective equipment requirements.

Related: Arizona Governor Doug Ducey eases some restrictions as COVID-19 cases wane

We first spoke with Sally Swanson in December 2020. At the time, Swanson said she was excited to get the vaccine.

"I'll be the first in line to get it whenever it's available," Swanson said at the time. "I feel positive right now. We're finally making some progress and we're getting to the end of it."

Related: Keeping seniors in long-term care facilities safe with next COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Unfortunately, COVID-19 found Swanson first.

"I was in the hospital for a week," said Swanson. I don’t remember much about it, but it wasn’t pleasant I know that."

The Governor's decision opened doors to visitors at the facilities, giving residents a chance to catch up on lost time with friends and family.

"It’s very liberating for us. mostly for the residents and their families because they haven’t seen each other for quite some time," said Richard Hapan with R&R East Valley Care Homes.

These facilities are still responsible for their residents, and not everyone of them is vaccinated, do several COVID-related house rules remain in place, including limits on visitors and hours, mandatory COVID questionnaires, and temperature checks upon arrival.

"We are caring for these older generations.," said Ruben Barranco with R&R East Valley Care Homes. "The seniors, they are immune suppressed or frail healthwise, so we are just protecting their welfare."

As for Swanson, she has fully recovered from COVID-19, and is fully vaccinated from it as well. She is now ready to spend time with loved ones.

"FaceTime and phone calls are good, but not the same as being in person," said Swanson.

Officials with the facility say they do not know when it is time to get rid of their own COVID-related restrictions. They will rely on their experience, as well as feedback from residents and their family, to make that decision.

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COVID-19 resources

CDC Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)

AZDHS Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)