Minnesota will identify nursing homes with COVID-19 cases as pandemic spreads to 47 facilities

As soon as Friday, Minnesota will begin identifying nursing homes and other facilities that have seen COVID-19 cases, as the coronavirus has now spread to 47 different care facilities.

The state hadn't initially planned to identify specific facilities, citing an interest to protect the privacy of patients and health care workers. But Thursday, officials said they were working to put protocols in place to identify larger facilities with more than ten beds, hoping to balance the need for transparency with expectations of privacy for patients.

Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm says most of the 47 congregate living sites -- which includes nursing homes, assisted living, and group homes -- have just one or two cases.

But, six have more than two cases including a single facility that has eight positive cases. Among all the locations, 49 patients have tested positive along 22 health care workers. 

As the virus poses a greater threat to older patients and those with underlying conditions, health officials have put a greater focus on nursing homes and other congregate living facilities.

Last week, MDH said that, whenever a case is identified at a facility, it triggers a response from the health department, which allows for further monitoring and screening by the state to identify further cases.

Eleven of Minnesota's 18 coronavirus deaths have been patients at a long-term care facility.