Health officials have relaxed federal COVID-19 guidance for nursing homes for the first time since September, recommending that even unvaccinated visitors and residents be allowed to meet in person under most circumstances.

"Facilities should allow indoor visitation at all times and for all residents (regardless of vaccination status), except for a few circumstances when visitation should be limited due to a high risk of COVID-19 transmission," the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, said in advice issued Wednesday.

The revised advice also said that "compassionate care visits should be permitted at all times."

In the latest guidance, however, the CMS recommends that indoor visit should be limited in cases where an unvaccinated resident is in a county where the coronavirus positivity rate exceeds 10% and fewer than 70% of the facility's residents are fully vaccinated.

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