By Jennifer Mayerle

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) —On Thursday, Mayor Jacob Frey signed an emergency regulation to provide guidance on what those working and living in senior and assisted living centers should do to protect the most vulnerable.

About 90% of the Minneapolis’ COVID-19 deaths have happened in congregate facilities. Frey saw the need to enact more prevention measures in the city.

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“This is where the death toll is the highest. This is where the highest number of people are getting sick and being substantially impacted by this illness,” Frey said.

He reports 32 of the first 35 deaths in Minneapolis have been at these facilities That led to an emergency regulation to make sure the 230 facilities in the city are on the same page.

“It makes sense to provide extra precautions to make sure they don’t contract, that this virus doesn’t enter these facilities to begin with and if it does enter the facilities that we’re able to segregate people off,” Frey said.

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Beginning next week, entry is limited to staff, residents and first responders. Exceptions may be made during end of life care.

Some of the other changes include: suspended communal dining and activities, and staff must wear masks at all times.  Residents should wear them outside of their room.

Everyone entering will be screened for symptoms. Patients and residents should be screened several times a day. There should also be a dedicated space to quarantine people who become sick to prevent the spread.

Frey knows this may be tough on families, but says it’s needed to save lives.

“The best way to love grandma right now is from afar. We need to be providing the necessary protection and safety for our seniors in our community and one of the best ways to do that is to make sure we have clear regulations in place to allow for it,” he said.

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The added regulations will go into effect in Minneapolis on Tuesday at 5 p.m. Click here to read the emergency regulation.

Jennifer Mayerle