Pandemic containment strategies including testing and personal protective equipment have had an effect in Minnesota, significantly reducing deaths from the virus in long-term care facilities, a local news outlet reported. 

The state lost 137 long-term care residents to COVID-19 deaths in the third week of May, compared with 13 last week — a 90% decline, according to the StarTribune. Also in mid-May, 23 facilities reported at least one case of COVID-19 every day. That rate now is 6 per day. 

While the state began on what some saw as shaky footing in its response to the pandemic, it since has made major strides. Gov. Tim Walz’s (D) five-point plan in early May to improve safety in long-term care facilities played a major role. Among the moves that made a difference was the state’s commitment to conduct universal COVID-19 diagnostic testing of all residents and staff in any facility with a confirmed case.

Another positive step was the state’s recruitment of corporate leaders to use purchasing power and connections to secure more PPE supplies for Minnesota, which wound up helping nursing homes directly, observers said, according to the article. In addition, 1,100 health care professionals in Minnesota volunteered to cover shifts at long-term care facilities where workers were out sick.

Outside of long-term care On Wednesday, Gov. Tim Walz (D) signed an executive order requiring Minnesotans to wear a face covering while inside businesses and indoor public settings. Minnesota now joins 28 states that have taken such an action.