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Grand Arbor worker had COVID-19

The worker has since recovered and is back at work, and no new infections have been found, official says.

A staff member at Grand Arbor tested positive for COVID-19 but has since recovered and is back at work, the senior living facility confirmed on Wednesday, May 27.

Grand Arbor received confirmation of the case on May 1, said Katie Perry, chief development and strategy officer for Knute Nelson, which owns Grand Arbor.

The staff member had last worked on Sunday, April 26, and had worn proper personal protective equipment, she said. The person didn't develop systems until two days after working, and at that point informed their supervisor.

"We required them to get tested and stay at home based on the recommendation from their health care provider," said a written account that Perry provided to the Echo Press. "They did not report to work with symptoms. The staff member contracted the virus from the community either by airborne or contact forms or possibly both."

The worker self-quarantined at home and did not return to work until meeting specific criteria as advised by the Minnesota Department of Health, the account said. Perry did not identify the worker's gender or what kind of job he or she did, citing health privacy laws.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has brutalized nursing homes and other senior living residences across the nation. Of the 932 COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota, 81% of them have been people living in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

The state health department has included Grand Arbor on its list of congregate living facilities with exposure. It is the only such facility listed from Douglas County. Douglas County has 39 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and no deaths as of Wednesday, according to the health department website.

Perry said Knute Nelson has taken multiple steps to defend its staff and residents against the virus, starting with a coronavirus taskforce that has met daily.

Upon hearing about the confirmed case, Knute Nelson completed contact tracing, including identifying where exposure may have occurred, Perry said. It verified that the employee had been properly screened prior to their shift and was wearing all personal protective equipment. All staff began wearing face shields.

Other steps Knute Nelson has taken include: Restricting visitors except during certain end-of-life situations; screening all visitors and staff; temporarily closing all community spaces to the public; encouraging residents to stay in their apartments or designated areas; and using masks, personal protective equipment and social distancing. Residents now eat in their apartments.

The organization is also collaborating with local hospitals and and other health care agencies, the account said.

It also says its policy is to inform residents and their families at all of its residential facilities when they have a confirmed positive case, which exceeds federal recommendations which only call for disclosure at nursing homes.

As of Wednesday, May 27, there were no active cases at Knute Nelson Care Center, Grand Arbor or Nelson Gables, the written statement said.

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โ€œWe are saddened that COVID-19 has affected anyone, including our staff,โ€ says Mark Anderson, president/CEO at Knute Nelson. โ€œWe have been taking every precaution possible to help mitigate the spread of the virus in every area and every community where we provide care. We are thankful to report the full recovery of our staff member. Keeping our staff and residents safe and healthy continues to be our number one priority.โ€

Knute Nelson wants to be able to conduct testing for the virus facility-wide and said it has been working with the Minnesota Department of Health and Alomere Health to do so.

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