SCBHS requiring medical grade masks at clinic, hospital

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By Reed Anfinson
 Due to the current surge of COVID-19 cases, and the need to strengthen protection against the highly contagious omicron variant, SCBHS will be implementing visitor restrictions and will require medical-grade masking.
Cloth masks, gaiters, and bandanas do not comply with the new rules. Visitors will have to wear surgical masks, or N-95, or KN-95 masks. Masks will be required for all visitors ages 2 and older. Those entering the facility without a medical grade mask will be provided one.
“Several studies have shown that some cloth masks may not provide enough protection against the virus, and specifically the now-surging omicron variant. Patients and visitors use a wide range of face coverings, making standardization necessary for the health and safety of all,” SCBHS stated in implementing the policy.

New visitor restrictions
Starting last Wednesday, SCBHS went to a policy of not allowing visitors into the hospital unless under the following situations:
- End of life
- Critically ill
- Parent/legal guardian of a minor patient
- Support person/legal guardian of an adult with cognitive, physical or developmental disabilities
- Labor support
- High-risk procedures requiring in-person discussions about care and informed consent
SCBHS will allow only one healthy visitor during the entire hospital stay for those in the above categories.
In the clinic, the only visitor exceptions are:
- One healthy visitor for adult patients with cognitive, physical or developmental disabilities.
- Two healthy adult visitors for minor patients. Additional minors, besides patient, are not allowed.
“We’re doing everything we can to protect the health and safety of our patients, visitors and staff,” said Melissa McGinty-Thompson, SCBHS Chief Nursing Officer and Co-Administrator, said. “We urge the public to help us during this outbreak by wearing a mask, getting vaccinated and boosted, and avoiding large crowds or gatherings until transmission decreases in our community.”
Please help decrease the spread of COVID-19 in our community. COVID-19 vaccinations are available to anyone age 5 and older at our clinic. To schedule a COVID-19 vaccine, call 320-843-2030.

Cases rising
In the first week of January, Swift County saw 16 cases if COVID-19 confirmed by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH.) In the second week, it confirmed another 27 with 16 of them on Friday alone.
With the highly transmissible omicron variant now established in western Minnesota, it is likely case numbers will continue to rise. The statistics reported by the MDH do not include the results from home tests.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put the rate of community transmission of the virus at a high 11.15% in Swift County. Just a few weeks ago it was down to 5%.

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