It has been the Minnesota Department of Health's preference to this point to not give specific information about where COVID-19 patients live outside of providing their county of residence.
That will continue to be the case for most people who test positive for the virus, but beginning soon the department will provide names of some long-term care facilities where outbreaks are happening.
"With the current level of concern we believe it is important to balance value with government transparency and sharing info with the public," said MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm. "To that end, we decided to update that approach to share more info in long-term care facilities. Still trying to nail down some details, but we'll be moving quickly in next day or two."
The decision comes following the Star Tribune publishing a story in which an elderly law attorney argued that "it's absolutely critical for the public to know which facilities have [COVID-19 cases] or this could jump from facility to facility like wildfire.”
It's unclear how many facilities will be named since Malcolm said they will only identify facilities with at least 10 beds for residents.
Eighteen people have died of the novel coronavirus in Minnesota, with a median age of 83. Eleven of those deaths were residents of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. As of Wednesday, long-term care facilities in Minnesota had produced 38 residents testing positive for COVID-19 and 22 staff members.
As of Thursday, there are 47 congregate care facilities – nursing homes, assisted-living centers, memory care, and group homes – in Minnesota with at least one confirmed case of COVID-19.
- 36 facilities have 1 positive test.
- 5 facilities have 2 positive tests.
- 6 facilities have more than 2 positive tests.
Furthermore, 24 facilities have cases involving only residents while 17 facilities have cases only involving healthcare workers. Six facilities have a mix of residents and healthcare staff who have tested positive.
Outbreaks in long-term care facilities are especially dangerous due to the older ages and underlying health conditions that many residents have, as has been evidenced in Washington state as 37 residents of one nursing home died in the early stages of the outbreak in America.