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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The state of Minnesota is reversing course.

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The Minnesota Department of Health will now release the names and locations of 49 long-term care facilities with confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The state had cited federal and state privacy laws for not releasing the information. But Thursday, State Senators Michelle Benson and Karin Housley sent a formal request to Gov. Tim Walz demanding the release of what they call “critical information.”

On a conference call with reporters Thursday, both Walz and MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm explained the decision to go public and still protect privacy.

“We believe it’s important to balance that value with the equally-legitimate value of government transparency and of sharing information with the public,” Malcolm said.

Walz says he and other state leaders will try to release as much data as legally possible.

“We will do our very best as always to provide as much as we can,” Walz said. “At the same time, know we are very serious about people’s personal privacies and civil liberties.”

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Here are the numbers:

  • 11 of the state’s 18 deaths have been in long-term care facilities
  • 47 facilities have cases
  • 49 residents have tested positive
  • 22 workers have tested positive
  • Some nursing homes have been notifying residents about cases. One nursing home, which WCCO is not naming, sent out a notice dated March 27 saying a staffer in a dining area had tested positive, but others have not.

    Republican State Sen. Karin Housley says some homes have not even notified residents.

    “I am hearing from constituents and people in Minnesota,” Housley said. “They are nervous, they want information, and they feel the lack of information and lack of transparency, it creates even more paranoia.”

    MDH officials say they will publicly name the long-term facilities that have cases as soon as Friday, and Saturday at the latest. The information was also be made public on MDH’s website.

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