ST PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) issued new guidance Thursday for long-term care (LTC) facilities looking for safe ways to allow friends and family members to visit residents during the coronavirus pandemic.
The new guidance includes recommendations for outdoor visits and window visits.
"We continue to recognize how the effects of isolation can have serious impacts on the health and well-being of residents and know that visitor restrictions have been extremely challenging for all of us over these last several months," MDH said in a news release.
For outdoor visits, MDH makes the following recommendations for long-term care residents:
- Residents must wear a mask or face covering, as tolerated
- Residents must not be currently positive for COVID-19 or in a quarantine or observation period
MDH also lists recommended visitor criteria for outdoor visits at a long-term care facility:
- Visitors must wear a mask or face covering during the entire visit
- Visitors must use an alcohol-based hand-rub when entering and exiting
- Visitors must be screened for signs and symptoms of COVID-19
- Visitors should not walk through the building to get to the outdoor visitation area
- Visitors should sign-in and provide contact information
- Physical contact is not recommended due to the risk of exposure, including hugging, kissing and holding hands
- All visitors must maintain six feet of social distancing
MDH recommends that long-term care facilities implement the guidance immediately; however, individual facilities can deny outdoor visitation if a visitor refuses to follow guidance, or if there's a risk of transmission.
For window visits, MDH recommends visitors call ahead, schedule, and pre-plan any such visit. Window visits should follow social distancing requirements, especially if the window will be open during the visit, with masks recommended for both residents and visitors.
According to MDH statistics as of June 18, more than 7,000 positive coronavirus cases have originated in congregate living settings, and the vast majority of COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota (1,064 out of 1,344 reported to date) have been cases tied to long-term care or assisted living facilities.
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The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. There is also a data portal online at mn.gov/covid19.