What are the next steps for senior care facilities in the midst of the pandemic?

A senior citizen holds the hand of a care coordinator
A senior citizen holds the hand of a care coordinator at a health facility in Miami on July 17.
Wilfredo Lee | AP Photo file

Grandma can finally see the grandkids. But no hugs, please.

Families with loved ones in care facilities were given more visitation guidelines in August by the Minnesota Department of Health. The new guidance seeks to support long-term care facilities as they weigh how to keep residents safe from the coronavirus without isolating them entirely from social connections.

It’s a delicate balance. Of the 1,830 people who have died in Minnesota from COVID-19, about 73 percent were living in long-term care or assisted living facilities.

So what next? If infection rates surge in the winter, will facilities shut down again? What has the pandemic revealed to us about the totality of senior care in America?

Thursday, MPR News guest host Chris Farrell spoke with two industry experts about what facilities — and their residents — are facing.


  • Patti Cullen, CEO of Care Providers of Minnesota and liaison to the American Health Care Association.

  • Ruth Katz, senior vice president of public policy at Leading Age

Correction (Sept. 3, 2020): An earlier version of this story listed an incorrect title for Patti Cullen. The story has been updated.

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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