Skip to main content

Coronavirus: Gov. Walz announces 5-point 'battle plan' to reduce long-term care deaths

More than 80 percent of Minnesota's COVID-19 deaths have been in long-term care facility.

Gov. Tim Walz has announced a five-point "battle plan" to reduce the deadly spread of COVID-19 in the state's long-term care facilities.

The virus has proven particularly dangerous to elderly populations and those with underlying health conditions, which is exacerbated by them living in close quarters.

Residents of long-term and assisted-living facilities comprise just 23 percent of the total number of people hospitalized by the coronavirus, but more than 80 percent of deaths, with 407 of the state's 508 deaths as of Wednesday coming from these settings.

In his Thursday press conference, Gov. Walz said that many facilities weren't prepared for the challenges presented of COVID-19, noting that "for many facilities the use of personal protective equipment and gloves ... was not the norm 30 days ago and they were not stocked up on it."

That said, Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said that Minnesota's long-term care death rate is significantly higher than neighboring states because Minnesota has prioritized testing in these settings, arguing that in other states care home residents have died before they could be tested, leading to a possible undercount.

With Walz now satisfied with the state's stockpile of PPE and hospital capacity, he says it's time to "go on the offensive" to aggressively reduce the spread of coronavirus in congregate care settings. 

Among other things, this will include utilizing the state's PPE stockpile for use by long-term care centers – so they don't have to compete for supplies with other companies/authorities – boosting staffing numbers so that care of the vulnerable continues, and expanding testing so that infected residents are identified early, isolated, and their contacts traced.

What does the plan say?

The plan will be implemented in the coming days. Here's a look at it:

1. Expanded Testing for Residents and Workers

  • Institute consistent “active screening” practices for residents and staff.
  • Expand testing to all symptomatic residents & staff, as well as facility-wide testing when a case is confirmed or when multiple people develop symptoms.
  • Continue routine testing of residents/staff meeting specific risk criteria.
  • Expand work on facilities’ action plans for COVID-19 cases among residents or staff, including steps for dealing with multiple cases.
  • Continue to ensure staff are trained on proper use of masks and other protective equipment.

2. Provide Testing Support and Troubleshooting

  • Work with health systems to create "strike teams" that quickly conduct on-site testing and necessary follow up.
  • Coordinate with regional health care coalitions for immediate response and resources.
  • Ensuring testing supplies move efficiently where they are needed.

3. Get PPE to long-term care facilities

  • Maintain state-managed stockpile of masks and other PPE for emergency use when a LTC facility exhausts its supplies and is unable to restock
  • Push out needed equipment for facilities facing outbreaks, and make it available to other facilities based on availability.

4. Ensuring LTC facilities have adequate staff

  • Using the emergency COVID-19 fund approved by the Legislature to get healthcare workers to provide temporary "bridge" staffing.
  • Aggressively advocating for increased state and federal resources.
  • Activating the Minnesota National Guard.
  • Using databases to "call out" healthcare workers that can take on-call shifts.
  • Using incentives to encourage health care systems to provide crisis staffing to facilities

5. Leverage partnerships

  • Partner with local public health to coordinate support and provide on-site technical assistance for facilities.
  • Launch a new case management model at facilities, using local and regional expertise to provide guidance, monitoring and support.
  • Make sure that facilities maintain strong preparedness plans, including plans to reduce disease transmission and limit exposure risks.
  • Require facility commitment to reduce transmission by excluding ill workers and those testing positive, and by excluding workers with unprotected exposure.

Next Up

Crane Lake

Flooding expected to worsen in MN's Arrowhead region

Hundreds of private homes are at-risk in northern St. Louis County.

St. Paul Police crash

St. Paul police: Kids in stolen car rammed squad, hid in porta-potty

The incident sent the Minnesota Capitol into a brief lockdown.

IMG_7030

Watch: Storm updates after heavy hail slams Twin Cities

Sven Sundgaard is providing an update after Thursday's flash hail storm.

kim crockett facebook sos

MN GOP apologizes over antisemitic sequence in candidate's campaign video

Party leader says candidate didn't know the imagery perpetuated an antisemitic trope.

storm, severe

Tornado, severe thunderstorm watches issued in Minnesota

In addition to possible tornadoes, there is a threat for damaging winds and very large hail.

House sale keys door

High prices, stiff competition putting off homebuyers in Twin Cities

Prices continue to rise in the metro, but there are signs of buyer fatigue.

Screen Shot 2022-05-19 at 1.59.51 PM

Series of explosions at manufacturing plant injures 6 in Wisconsin

The blast rocked the Wisconsin town just before 7:45 a.m.

police lights squad car dark - Unsplash

Medford man dies in Le Sueur County crash

The 49-year-old was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.

Denisovan molar

MN researcher part of team behind 'revolutionary' discovery of ancient tooth in Laos

The molar found in a remote cave is believed to have belonged to a Denisovan girl who lived 164,000-130,000 years ago.

Eagle Ridge Middle School

Charges: Sting catches MN principal trying to hire child prostitute

Authorities alleged Mohamed Selim attempted to meet a 15-year-old girl for sex on Tuesday.

cub donuts 1

Nominate a 'local hero' to get a dozen Cub donuts from Salvation Army

The organization is looking for 1,000 volunteers to help with the effort in the metro.

Related

Screen Shot 2020-04-17 at 2.58.26 PM

Coronavirus: Gov. Walz to address long-term care crisis at press conference

More than 80 percent of Minnesota's COVID-19 deaths have come from long-term care settings.

long term care elderly

Coronavirus: New guidance released for visiting long-term care homes

Visits to congregate care facilities have been strictly limited during the COVID-19 outbreak.

long term care elderly

MN eases restrictions, allowing some inside visits at long-term care facilities

Family and others deemed as essential caregivers can now visit residents of long-term care facilities indoors.

Meridian Manor

Wayzata care home closing down after coronavirus outbreak

Long-term care facilities have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

long term care elderly

Indoor visitor ban at long-term care facilities lifted in MN

Meanwhile, Gov. Tim Walz has extended the peacetime emergency.

Tim Walz modeling

Watch live: Gov. Tim Walz gives his latest coronavirus update

The governor is expected to address Minnesota's long-term care crisis.

long term care elderly

400 MN National Guard members headed to long-term care facilities

The governor also hopes to provide $50 million in federal funding to help facilities hire more workers.

long term care elderly

Care facilities with COVID-19 outbreaks soon to be identified in MN

The media age of the 18 people who have died from COVID-19 in Minnesota is 83.