SAINT PAUL, MN – Minnesota Department Health today shared updated visitation guidance for those living in long-term care (LTC) facilities. Rep. Keith Franke, R-St. Paul Park, released the following statement on the new guidance:
“This new guidance is very good news for our elderly residents in long-term care facilities. For so long they have been unable to visit with loved ones out of caution for their safety. Now that the majority of long-term care residents are vaccinated, this new guidance will allow families to gather outside of these facilities and take loved ones out to eat or home for celebrations.
“As the Republican Lead on the Behavioral Health Committee, I know the importance of gathering with family and friends for the benefit of Minnesotans’ mental health. Our seniors in long-term care have been isolated for too long. This new guidance will have an enormous boost for our elderly’s mental health after a difficult year away from loved ones.”
The updated guidance includes the following recommendations related to outings:
• Residents who are fully vaccinated do not have to quarantine after non-medically necessary outings unless they spend 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period within 6 feet of someone who can spread COVID-19 (someone who has tested positive in the last 7-10 days.)
• Residents who are fully vaccinated may gather indoors or outdoors with other people who are fully vaccinated.
• Residents who are fully vaccinated can visit indoors or outdoors with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 infection.
• If the resident is fully vaccinated, they can choose to have close contact (including touch) with the persons they are visiting.
• If a resident who is fully vaccinated chooses to attend a place of worship or other group event, or to shop or eat in public establishments, the resident should follow the core principles of COVID-19 infection prevention. MDH strongly encourages attending places of worship or other group events only when the 14-day county percent positivity rate is below 5%.
• Unvaccinated residents who leave the building to gather with others may be required to quarantine when they return. At this time, quarantine recommendations remain unchanged for an unvaccinated resident, regardless of the vaccination status of those with whom they gather.
The updated guidance also includes the following recommendations related to facility visits:
• Residents should be able to have private visits.
• If a resident is fully vaccinated, they can choose to have close contact (including touch) with their visitor while wearing a well-fitted face mask (if tolerated) and performing hand hygiene before and after.
• While taking a person-centered approach, outdoor visitation is preferred even when the resident and visitor are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, because outdoor visits generally pose a lower risk of spreading the disease. Visits should be held outdoors whenever feasible.
• Compassionate care visits, essential caregivers, and visits required under state and federal disability rights laws, should be allowed at all times, regardless of a resident’s vaccination status, the county’s COVID-19 positivity rate, or an outbreak.
• Facilities in medium or high positivity counties are encouraged to offer testing to visitors as feasible. Visitors should also be encouraged to get vaccinated when they have the opportunity. While visitor testing and vaccination can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, neither testing nor vaccination should be required of visitors as a condition of visitation, nor should proof of such be requested.
• Screening questions must now include whether the visitor has had close contact in the prior 14 days with someone who is infected with COVID-19 (regardless of whether the visitor is vaccinated). If the visitor answers yes, the visitor should not be allowed to enter.