ST. PAUL (LEARFIELD) – The Minnesota Department of Health has released new guidance effective August 29th on visitor policies at long-term care facilities, amid a resurgence of COVID in some congregate-care settings.

Officials say they want facilities to keep their COVID-19 guard up, but also want to balance that with the mental health of long-term care facility residents.

“Residents have been isolated for months, and that presents significant risks for their emotional and social well-being,” said Lindsey Krueger, director of the Office of Health Facility Complaints. “Walling off residents from the majority of the majority of their family and friends is simply not a sustainable approach.”

Health officials say the primary factor in setting visitation policies should be — has there been any exposure in the facility within the past 28 days to a COVID case in either a resident, a staff member or a service provider?

The Health Department for the first time is also asking long-term care facilities to look at the level of COVID cases in the surrounding community when determining rules for visits.