Nursing homes and other care facilities in Minneapolis must check people’s temperatures at the door, prohibit nonessential visitors and increase the number of staff and residents wearing face masks under a new emergency regulation signed Thursday by Mayor Jacob Frey.
As of Wednesday, there had been 281 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city, about a third of which involved people in these types of facilities. Of the city’s 35 COVID-19 deaths, 32 were people associated with the facilities, Frey said.
“The first goal is to prevent the virus from getting in these facilities at all, and then our second goal is to prevent community spread within the building if an outbreak does occur,” Frey said. “It’s no secret that ... seniors and those with health concerns are most vulnerable.”
The new requirements go into effect Tuesday night and will apply to nursing homes, hospice and psychiatric health facilities and similar entities. Facilities that violate the new rules could face a misdemeanor and a fine of up to $1,000.
The order also instructs the facilities to serve meals in residents’ rooms rather than communal dining areas, to do daily symptom checks for both residents and staff, and to immediately report suspected COVID-19 cases to the Minnesota Department of Health.
Staff members must wear face coverings while they are working, and residents must wear masks when leaving their rooms unless they have a medical condition that makes it unsafe to do so.
The order also instructs the facilities to designate an area for treating people with COVID-19 and assign a dedicated team to work there. It allows limited exceptions to the ban on visitors in cases when people need end-of-life care.
Many of the new requirements follow guidelines already issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The city’s Health Department and business licensing division will be in charge of enforcement. Frey said they will focus first on education and outreach and then will issue fines, if necessary, to repeat offenders.