DHSS March 13 COVID-19 Health Alert: Limiting Exposure at Long-Term Care Facilities

Seal of the State of Alaska


Issued March 13, 2020

By: Dr. Anne Zink, Chief Medical Officer, State of Alaska

Under the authority of Governor Dunleavy’s emergency order, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) is issuing a policy to limit exposure to COVID-19 at long-term care facilities. DHSS is taking this action to protect Alaskans who are at greatest risk for the most severe outcomes of this disease.

“Our elders in nursing homes are particularly vulnerable to this disease and our actions are intended to protect vulnerable adults.” said Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer. “Our desire is to establish a close partnership with long-term care facilities and we’re asking families, friends and others who work in and visit these facilities to help us protect the health and safety of our parents, grandparents and other loved ones.”

This guidance directs skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes – including those providing memory care – to incorporate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s minimal to moderate mitigation strategies for long-term care facilities with additional measures, as follows:

  • Implement a screening process for anyone entering the facility who is not a resident or staff member. Screening should occur before, or immediately upon, entering the facility.
  • Change visitor policies to further limit exposures to residents and staff, including:
    • Limit visitation to essential individuals (e.g., family members and medical providers).
    • Screen all visitors for illness. If visitors have symptoms of respiratory illness/COVID-19 (e.g., fever, cough, shortness of breath) or have had recent travel to an area with known COVID-19 transmission, ask them to use an alternative means to visit with the resident, such as by phone or virtual visits.   
    • Limit visitor movement in the facility.
    • Keep a detailed log of all visitors and health care personnel (HCP) that includes information about which resident and areas of the facility they visit.
  • Limit resident activities that involve community outings and group gatherings.
  • Support residents’ access to socialization by offering lower-risk opportunities.

In addition:


Printable versions of State of Alaska Health Alerts are posted to the DHSS COVID-19 website at coronavirus.alaska.gov.