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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Five National Guard staffers were called in to work with a nursing home in Austin after it reported an outbreak of COVID-19 in recent days.

Workers at the Sacred Heart Care Center say they’ve confirmed 17 cases of COVID-19 on the premises — 10 of which are residents, and the other seven staffers at the Skilled Nursing Facility. All residents and staff had been tested Oct. 6.

Workers say that they’ve isolated the residents who tested positive, and they’re being treated. Staffers who tested positive have been sent to quarantine at home.

Five staff members with the National Guard Air Force staff were brought in to help provide care.

Sacred Heart Care Center also said that the Minnesota Department of Health inspected the center following allegations of neglect. They say that no evidence was found, and that “residents are being well taken care of and staffing levels are appropriate for the care we need to be providing.”

As of now, workers say that no visitors are being allowed unless their loved ones’ health is in decline, and no indoor visits are being allowed at all. They are also maintaining mandatory COVID-19 testing for all staffers. The center says their supply of PPE is “above average.”

Late Tuesday, the Minnesota Department of Health issued the following statement:

For the recent upswing in cases, the national guard has only been deployed to the Hibbing facility and the Austin facility you mentioned. The situation has stabilized in Hibbing and emergency staff from the guard is no longer there.

The staffing shortage at the Hibbing long-term care facility was a result of community spread and a recent increase in positive COVID cases in the region. The facility reached out to the Long Term Care Facility Work Group in the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) to inform them of the shortage. That work group checked with local health care coalitions and used a software system that matches a facility’s needs with locally trained personnel who could possibly fill the staffing shortage. When it was clear that no personnel were available, the work group requested assistance from the Minnesota National Guard through the SEOC.

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