MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An update Monday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could bring more Minnesota families together.

The agency announced Monday that anyone fully-vaccinated for COVID-19 can gather with other fully-vaccinated people without masks or social distancing. A person is considered fully-vaccinated two weeks after completing all the required doses.

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The CDC also updated its guidelines to say that if you’re vaccinated, you can gather with up to one unvaccinated household, as long as none of them are at high risk of severe illness.

This all came as welcome news to Paula and Rob Engelking, siblings who are fully vaccinated and haven’t been within six feet of each other or indoors together since last March.

“I can come over to your house and you can come over to mine,” Paula said.

Paula can now hug her nephew, Mason, too. The Engelkings are both essential caregivers for their parents, who live in a Woodbury retirement community. Jim and Carol Engelking hasn’t been able to regularly see each other, even after being vaccinated.

Jim and Carol Engelking (credit: The Engelking Family)

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What this updated guidance means for them, and others who live in long-term care facilities, is still unclear.

“I’d give it all up if my mom and dad could just start having lunch and supper together,” Paula said. “That’s what I want. I want them to get to hang out together.”

The Minnesota Department of Health says it takes its guidance for nursing homes from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. Kris Ehresmann — MDH’s director of infectious disease epidemiology, prevention, and control — says the department is waiting to hear for possible updates on long-term care visitation.

“We’ll work to update information for Minnesotans as appropriate over the coming days,” Ehresmann said.

An MDH spokesperson said as of last week, 96% of long-term care facilities were required to allow visitors. Since October, the guidance has been that facilities must allow for broader visitation if the facility had not had a COVID-19 exposure in the last 14 days, and their county positivity rate was less than 10%.

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Regarding the updated CDC guidelines, MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm says only about 10% of Minnesotans have been vaccinated, so the guidance doesn’t change things for very many people yet.

David Schuman