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Iowa long-term care facilities given the green light to loosen visitor restrictions

Under new guidance from the Iowa Department of Public Health, indoor visits may be allowed, dependent on facility policy and current mitigation efforts

Posted: Oct 7, 2020 2:05 AM
Updated: Oct 7, 2020 2:05 AM

MASON CITY, Iowa - For many, visiting a loved one at a long-term care facility has been a challenge. But new guidance from the Iowa Department of Public Health may allow personal visits once again.

The new guidance would allow more indoor visits, depending on facility policy and per Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recommendations. For indoor visits, regardless of county positivity rates, the Department encourages facilities to use chat boxes and/or plexiglass separators when possible. In addition, the guidance would allow more access for quality of life services, like barbers and beauticians. It would also expand the scope of compassionate care visits outside of end-of-life scenarios, such as transitioning to a home, or for grievance purposes.

Earlier this year, the Good Shepherd Health Center dealt with a severe outbreak of coronavirus cases. Now, CEO Ian Stockberger says the facility has been COVID-free for about a month.

"We worked with the Iowa Department of Public Health, Cerro Gordo Public Health, any state agency that would be involved with us. We were able to separate people and get it calmed down here in the facility where we're now COVID-free."

In addition, the facility has added more communication devices to allow family members to visit with residents.

"We are offering an amped up hybrid window visit, where we have purchased some good audio equipment and some microphones. People are able to have a high quality visit with a glass partition in between them. It's very safe, very easy to hear people."

Stockberger says the facility is considering allowing indoor visits again. However, he says they do not want to risk any more spread, with one factor being taken into consideration is Cerro Gordo County's positivity rate, as well as surrounding counties. 

"This is such a multi-layered problem. It's federal, it's state, it's local, you have to consider all the facts. At Good Shepherd, we made the decision early and we've really stuck by it, that our safety is not to be compromised. We learned a very valuable lesson this summer. COVID enters these buildings, and it's not because you're not being safe in the first place. If there's anything to take away from this, it's absolutely that safety cannot be compromised."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 304023

Reported Deaths: 3580
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin641421113
Ramsey27059502
Anoka21526225
Dakota21268190
Washington13529113
Stearns13524108
St. Louis8433108
Scott820154
Wright746139
Olmsted653534
Sherburne570941
Clay483956
Carver455913
Blue Earth405214
Rice403136
Kandiyohi396821
Crow Wing353431
Nobles304929
Chisago304410
Otter Tail300522
Benton293348
Winona273730
Mower257423
Douglas250735
Polk248923
Morrison228029
Lyon213411
Beltrami211917
McLeod205011
Becker199815
Goodhue196728
Steele19137
Itasca185523
Isanti184917
Todd178413
Carlton177715
Nicollet158725
Freeborn15125
Mille Lacs149931
Le Sueur144911
Cass138610
Waseca137811
Brown136415
Pine13138
Meeker12398
Roseau11454
Hubbard111924
Martin111220
Wabasha10301
Redwood91619
Chippewa8527
Dodge8380
Cottonwood8333
Watonwan8334
Renville83124
Wadena7736
Sibley7724
Rock7569
Aitkin75529
Pipestone71018
Houston6854
Fillmore6770
Yellow Medicine63311
Pennington6277
Kanabec59613
Murray5783
Swift5758
Faribault5422
Pope5281
Stevens5063
Clearwater5058
Jackson4841
Marshall4758
Lake4066
Koochiching3855
Wilkin3715
Unassigned36759
Lac qui Parle3613
Lincoln3511
Norman3417
Big Stone3072
Mahnomen2904
Grant2726
Kittson2138
Red Lake2053
Traverse1461
Lake of the Woods951
Cook660

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 225897

Reported Deaths: 2345
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk33451334
Linn14206164
Scott1116385
Black Hawk10849134
Woodbury10323124
Johnson948636
Dubuque918291
Story677621
Dallas633657
Pottawattamie624570
Sioux369125
Webster357833
Cerro Gordo351544
Marshall347846
Clinton327540
Buena Vista304114
Des Moines287920
Muscatine286468
Warren279611
Plymouth274242
Wapello255071
Jones229813
Jasper217443
Marion204320
Lee202217
Carroll197322
Bremer194212
Henry18227
Crawford174316
Benton169519
Tama153840
Jackson144313
Delaware143221
Washington140214
Dickinson138210
Boone136311
Mahaska126727
Wright12336
Clay11714
Buchanan116410
Hardin115010
Page11294
Clayton11105
Hamilton11059
Cedar107413
Harrison106729
Calhoun10617
Kossuth10566
Floyd104116
Mills10407
Fayette103310
Lyon10268
Butler10116
Poweshiek98913
Winneshiek96212
Iowa94612
Winnebago91723
Hancock8607
Louisa85816
Sac8578
Grundy85611
Chickasaw8494
Cherokee8374
Cass80823
Allamakee79911
Mitchell7884
Appanoose78710
Humboldt7695
Union7676
Shelby76211
Emmet76024
Guthrie75215
Franklin73521
Jefferson7112
Madison6804
Unassigned6620
Palo Alto6514
Keokuk5967
Pocahontas5574
Howard5529
Greene5220
Osceola5211
Ida48713
Clarke4824
Taylor4643
Montgomery46211
Davis4619
Monroe44312
Adair4408
Monona4332
Fremont3573
Van Buren3555
Worth3550
Lucas3236
Decatur3160
Wayne2987
Audubon2952
Ringgold2112
Adams1692
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