2 new COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota were long-term care patients

Gov. Walz said the two new death from COVID-19 in Minnesota that were reported on Friday were patients at long-term care facilities.

The deaths are putting a spotlight on a growing challenge for health leaders: stopping the spread of coronavirus at nursing homes.

The Minnesota Department of Health says 17 congregate care sites, including nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, have seen at least one case of the coronavirus. Three of the four total deaths from coronavirus in Minnesota have been patients at those types of facilities.

All four deaths have been people in their 80s, Commissioner Jan Malcolm said.

Minnesota has seen 398 confirmed cases of coronavirus but, with strict testing requirements, health officials say there are many more unconfirmed cases.

MDH says that the state has taken a variety of steps to protect people in long-term care facilities, including providing additional protective equipment for workers and closely monitoring staff and patients, using CDC guidelines.

When a case is found at a facility, Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann says the Minnesota Department of Health takes further steps to isolate the patient and stop the spread.

Health leaders say they have been in weekly communication with facilities to help guide them through the pandemic.