MDH and CDC Loosen Visitor Restrictions

Great news! Minnesota Department of Health is now allowing residents who are fully vaccinated to leave their assisted living communities for family visits and other activities—without having to quarantine for 14 days upon return. Previously, residents were only allowed to leave for medical appointments without having to quarantine upon their return to their community. Also, many of our communities are opening for indoor visitors as long as certain criteria are met.

While we celebrate these developments, we also want to encourage you to follow appropriate guidelines in order to lower the risk of spreading COVID-19. We will continue with surveillance testing and may need to shut down visitation allowances if a resident or staff person tests positive in the building.

Here’s what we know:

Vaccinated residents (14 days after 2nd Pfizer or Moderna vaccination or 14 days after Johnson & Johnson vaccine)

  • Fully vaccinated residents 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
  • Indoor and outdoor visits should be conducted following good infection control practices, such as wearing well-fitting masks that cover the mouth and nose, staying 6 feet from others (social distancing) when practical, and using good hand hygiene to reduce the risk of infection
  • If a resident who is fully vaccinated chooses to attend a place of worship or other group events, 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%. The positivity rate is the percentage of people who test positive for COVID-19 among all the people in the county who are tested

Unvaccinated residents

Contact your community’s executive director or director of health services to review quarantine plans before taking a loved one out of a facility. Your unvaccinated loved one will be required to quarantine for 14 days before they will be allowed to participate in the community activities, dining, and leaving their apartments.

Resources

  • Residents and their loved ones may contact administrative staff in our communities with questions about visitation
  • Long-term Care: Visitors and outside services
    Additional visitation guidance for long-term care and assisted living-type facilities, including flowcharts for outbreak status and exceptions
  • The Office of Ombudsman for Long-term Care is available if advocacy services are needed. Contact them at 651-431-2555 or 800-657-3591

Updated Visitation Guidelines:

The Minnesota Department of Health has come out with a strategic and careful re-introduction of visitation and activities guidelines for housing with services communities with an arranged home care provider, also known as assisted living-type facilities. Information from The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for skilled nursing facilities was used as a resource to develop this guidance, in addition to documents from the Centers for Disease Control, the Minnesota Department of Health, and the Alzheimer’s Association.

Outdoor visits are still the preferred method of visitation. No changes have made to the current recommendations for outdoor visits.

Indoor visits will now be allowed for visitors beyond Essential Caregiver and Compassionate Care visitors, however, certain criteria need to be met:

  • No COVID-19 cases are present in our community for 14 days prior to indoor visitation
  • Visitors must adhere to the core principles as outlined below
  • Children may need to be monitored as some may not be able to follow the core principles appropriately.
  • There will be a limit to the number of visitors that can see a resident at one time
  • We will limit the number of visitors in our building at one time
  • All visits need to be scheduled, and for a limited amount of time – similar to how we schedule outdoor visits
  • To limit the amount of visitor movement within our community, each visitor should go directly to the resident’s room/apartment or designated visitation area.
  • If our county has a positivity rate greater than 10%, visits will be limited to essential care and compassionate care visits.

Balancing COVID-19 safety and visitation restrictions with the well-being of our residents in long-term care and other residential settings is an urgent priority for Minnesota. Social isolation as a result of COVID-19 visitor restrictions is a significant concern and an issue that requires close cooperation between senior living/care communities, visitors, and local and state public health to address safely and successfully.

Visitation can be conducted through different means based on a community’s structure and residents’ needs, such as in resident rooms, dedicated visitation spaces, and outdoors: and for circumstances beyond compassionate care situations. We are developing updated visitation opportunities to ensure core principles and best practices that reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission are in place.

Core Principles of Visits

  • Screen for symptoms and temperatures are taken – Deny entry with any positive symptoms/elevated temperature
  • Hand hygiene at entry
  • Face masks at a minimum
  • Social distancing of 6 feet
  • Instructional signage
  • Clean/disinfect high touch areas frequently before and after each visit
  • Staff has access to appropriate PPE
  • Visitors who do not adhere to the core principles of safety will not be permitted to visit or will be asked to leave if after redirected does not comply.

We continue to follow the guidelines and restrictions determined by the Center for Disease Prevention (CDC) as well as the Minnesota Department of Health and Human Services.

​While we understand that this is incredibly difficult situation for the loved ones of our seniors and our residents, we are committed to protecting the health, quality of life and well-being of our patients and residents.