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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — COVID-19 has made its way to four long-term care facilities in Minnesota. Now, administrators are trying to fight the virus — while fighting loneliness.

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Jaqui and Norman Schmitz have been sharing conversation for half a century.

“I’m just a, you know, flipperty jibbit. I talk to everybody, I talk to the dogs,” Jaqui said.

The pair has really enjoyed talking with their neighbors at Trillium Woods Senior Living in Plymouth, but things have changed.

“We’re social beings. It’s hard to not be with other people,” Jaqui said.

They say their facility is taking precautions so they don’t get hit by COVID-19, shutting down the communal dining, the gym and community room.

“Our grandkids used to come over, one or two a week, and we don’t see them at all now,” Jaqui said.

Wayne Olson, vice president of healthcare operations for Volunteers of America, says their senior facilities haven’t had any Minnesota cases, but they are doing the same.

“Our residents are very much at risk, and we need to be sure that the people that are taking care of them have a minimum exposure to the virus,” Olson said.

Workers at a Maplewood home must be screened daily, with a temperature reading and symptom scan. They’ve intensified cleaning agents to protect surfaces. Residents must stay in their own spaces, and the most difficult move, no visitors allowed.

“We don’t want to have residents become isolated, we don’t want to have them feel depressed and at a higher level of anxiety than is necessary,” Olson said.

So their staff is coming up with FaceTime, and virtual visits. That is something Jaqui and Norm started doing on Monday.

“We had a Zoom conference with our three kids and it was quite wonderful, and so we will probably do it again today,” Norman said.

There is something you and your kids can do to help the senior population: Simply take some paper and write a note and send it to a senior facility. Nursing home administrators say some people have also left artwork, pizza or doughnuts for the staff and residents which they say was much appreciated.

Here is a list of local nursing homes:

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    • Elder Homestead
      11400 4th Street North
      Minnetonka, MN 55343


    • Maplewood Care Center
      1900 Sherren Avenue E
      Maplewood, MN 55109


    • The Homestead at Maplewood
      1890 Sherren Avenue E
      Maplewood, MN 55109


    • The Homestead at Coon Rapids
      11372 Robinson Drive NW
      Coon Rapids, MN 55433


    • The Homestead at Anoka
      3000 4th Avenue
      Anoka, MN 55303


    • The Homestead at Rochester
      1900 Ballington Blvd NW
      Rochester, MN 55901


    • Countryside Retirement Community
      1100 First Avenue S
      Sleepy Eye, MN 56085


    • Sleepy Eye Senior Living
      1105 3rd Avenue SW
      Sleepy Eye, MN 56085


    • Rochester VOA Elderly Housing, Inc.
      1800 High Pointe Lane, NW
      Rochester, MN 55901


    • Milaca Volunteers of America Living Center, Inc.
      15896-15854 Doken Drive
      Milaca, MN 56353


    • Mora Volunteers of America Living Center
      600 Walnut Street
      Mora, MN 55051


    • Nicollet Towers VOA Affordable Housing
      1350 Nicollet Mall
      Minneapolis, MN. 55403


    • North Park Plaza
      New Hope Volunteers of America Elderly Housing, Inc.
      8201 45th Avenue North
      New Hope, MN 55428


    • Oxbowl Bend Coon Rapids Elderly Housing
      3101 111th Avenue NW
      Coon Rapids MN 55433
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Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield