New guidelines for visiting Minnesota long-term care facilities

Baihly Warfield
Updated: August 10, 2020 06:58 PM

Many residents of long-term care facilities are going on five months of isolation. The Minnesota Department of Health has new plans for how facilities should handle visitors. 

This afternoon, MDH said there will be two levels: 

  • Level 1: Active COVID-19 cases or a case in the last 28 days
  • Level 2: COVID-free for 28 days or more

Along with the levels, facilities should consider the case rate per 10,000 in the local county, their size, and whether staff are working in other long-term care locations. 

However, the Department of Health said facilities are still able to make their own decisions about visitation. Commissioner Jan Malcolm said more than 90% of Minnesota facilities have not had a case in the last 28 days and would qualify for Level 2. 

"That is two incubation cycles. So ... increasingly, we look at 28-day periods to really feel some confidence that a facility is what we would consider to be controlled or recovered from an outbreak," Malcolm said. 

More than 10 cases per 10,000 people in a county would be considered an increased risk factor. In the Northland, the latest 14-day case rates (from July 12-25) are as follows: 

  • Aitkin: 3.79 per 10,000
  • Beltrami: 16.26 per 10,000
  • Carlton: 5.91 per 10,000
  • Cook: 1.88 per 10,000
  • Itasca: 9.96 per 10,000
  • Koochiching: 24.56 per 10,000
  • Lake: 2.84 per 10,000
  • Pine: 3.43 per 10,000
  • St. Louis: 4.85 per 10,000

Lindsey Krueger, the director of the Minnesota Department of Health's Office of Health Facility Complaints, said they have discovered residents of nursing homes are four times as likely to contract COVID-19 than those at assisted living facilities. She said as visitation opens up again, nursing homes must have a testing plan that includes facility-wide testing. And assisted living facilities are recommended to do the same. 

"We have had strict visitor restrictions in place for months. And that kind of blunt tool cannot be left in place forever without real costs," Krueger said. "The wellbeing of residents requires us to find a way to better balance protection and connection over the long term." 

If you have a question about visiting a loved one, it's best to check with individual facilities. 

Credits

Baihly Warfield

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