Updated: April 05, 2020 07:19 AM
Created: April 04, 2020 01:44 PM
The Minnesota Department of Health is keeping a watchful eye on seniors during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We are taking a conservative approach to following up,” said Kris Ehresmann, the department’s infectious disease director. “These populations are so vulnerable and we cannot take chances.”
Now, for the very first time, state health officials are releasing names of 32 congregate care facilities that have outbreaks.
Hennepin County has 11 such facilities, and there are four each in Ramsey and Washington counties.
“This is not intended to suggest that these facilities are in any way not doing the right thing by their residents,” Ehresmann said. “This is simply being transparent."
The health department says it’s laser-focused on seniors. MDH’s own statistics show:
MDH is now investigating potential exposures that occurred 48 hours before the onset of COVID-19 symptoms at care facilities with 10 or more patients.
An outbreak is declared when at least one staffer, one patient or one contractor tests positive for the virus.
“We know that COVID-19 is circulating in the community,” Ehresmann said. “We’re not necessarily saying this was an individual who was blatantly ill and disregarding every bit of information we’ve put out.”
The facilities by counties are:
To see the list on the state's website, click here.
CDC recommends wearing masks in public places
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are recommending people wear masks in public settings where it’s difficult to maintain social distancing, such as grocery stores or pharmacies.
MDH says the goal of the masks is to prevent your germs from infecting others, and vice versa.
“Your mask protects the person who is sitting across from you. And the person across from you, his mask would be protecting you,” Ehresmann said.
The department said the best way of preventing the spread of COVID-19 is by thorough hand washing, covering your cough, social distancing and staying home if you’re sick.
Authorities emphasize you shouldn’t use medical-grade or surgical masks. Those are in short supply and should be used by medical professionals only, experts say.
Ehresmann says a mask is an extra tool that people might consider, but she says it’s just secondary protection.
“We don’t want them to have a false sense of security by wearing a mask,” she says. “It’s not an excuse to go out if you’re sick, and it’s not protecting you. It’s what you do to minimize the chance to infect someone else.”
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