Three Links was notified Tuesday of an employee who had tested positive for COVID-19.

Three Links, in Northfield, announced the positive test Thursday.

Three Links Director of Marketing Pam Tidona said the impacted employee, who works at the Cottage on Forest assisted living facility, doesn’t provide direct patient care and was last at the location April 30.

Cottage on Forest is on the same campus as Three Links Care Center, but in a separate building and separate from Cottage East and Cottage West buildings. Cottage on Forest is physically connected to Reflections End-of-Life Care Suites.

Tidona said Cottage on Forest staff “have had “very limited contact with other parts of the Three Links Campus over the last two months.”

“Our top priority is to keep our residents and staff safe, healthy and informed,” Three Links CEO Mark Anderson said Thursday. “With the cooperation of our staff and community, we have implemented strict measures to prevent COVID-19 within our settings over the past couple of months, but unfortunately, an employee has recently tested positive for COVD-19.”

The news came as total confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota hit 9,365 Thursday, up 786 from Wednesday, the largest single-day jump in cases. It continues a string of days of accelerating case counts as testing for the virus intensifies.

The virus has taken an especially deadly toll in long-term care facilities. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, as of Thursday 407 of the 508 people who have died from COVID-19 in Minnesota were residing in a long-term care or assisted living facility. The average age of death from the virus is 83 in Minnesota.

Tidona said no residents have tested positive for COVID-19 at any Three Links location.

“Three Links continues to work in collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Health to ensure all appropriate steps and precautions are taken at this time,” she said.

Three Links nursing leadership have canceled group and visitor activities. Three Links began screening visitors with CDC-recommended questions in early March and discouraged unnecessary visits since. Three Links staff have been frequently disinfecting hard surfaces and providing supplemental staff training on infection control practices on an ongoing basis.

Only essential visitors are allowed to enter Three Links buildings after passing a screening with a temperature check. Staff members who are exhibiting symptoms are expected to self-quarantine at home. Tidona said people must wash their hands when entering a Three Links location, and additional hand sanitizer stations have been installed. Three Links has increased social distancing measures and adopted additional monitoring and surveillance of residents including temperature checks. Employees and essential visitors must wear fabric or surgical masks when entering a facility per CDC guidelines.

Tidona said Three Links has passed a coronavirus infection control survey administered by the Minnesota Department of Health.

Two residents of the Northfield Retirement Community who tested positive earlier this month for COVID-19 have since recovered, according to NRC staff. NRC and Three Links are the only two facilities in Rice County to have a staff member, resident or visiting provider test positive for the coronavirus.

Reach Associate Editor Sam Wilmes at 507-645-1115. © Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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