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This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

HealthPartners announced March 18 that it is taking additional steps related to identification, treatment and safety of patients, care teams and the community that will help prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19.

All elective surgeries, procedures and non-essential radiology services will be postponed through April 3, with no surgeries being scheduled until after April 27.

All non-emergent dental appointments that were scheduled between March 17 and March 29 will be suspended. For emergency procedures, dentists will evaluate a patient’s needs by phone and determine if the patient should be referred to a clinic for emergency care.

Some routine office visits will be changed to phone calls or rescheduling.

In addition, based on recommendations from the Minnesota Department of Health in response to a national shortage of COVID-19 testing materials, HealthPartners is suspending testing in the ambulatory clinics, urgent cares and emergency centers for patients not requiring hospitalization. Its emergency rooms don’t have the ability to do COVID-19 testing unless patients require hospitalization.

HealthPartners also issued additional guidelines restricting visitors to its hospitals and clinics.

Effective Wednesday, March 18, visitors will not be allowed in hospitals across the HealthPartners care system, with limited exceptions.

No visitors are allowed in hospitals, including Lakeview Hospital, with the following exceptions: newborn, special care nursery and pediatric patients will be allowed parents and/or legal guardians. Birth center patients will be allowed one support person.

Compassionate care patients (end of life) will be allowed visitors at hospital discretion.

Children will not be able to visit for their safety.

“We’re working hard to prevent the spread of the virus, and limiting contact with people who have COVID-19 is an important part of our prevention efforts,” said Mark Sannes, MD, Park Nicollet infectious disease specialist. “We’re applying these guidelines to protect our patients, employees and community.”

Visitors who meet exception criteria will be screened for wellness upon arriving to a facility. If a visitor has a cough, fever, exposure to COVID-19 or positive screening for COVID-19 symptoms, they will not be allowed to visit.

Effective Tuesday, March 17, the following visitor guidelines apply for visitors to clinic sites, including Stillwater Medical Group clinics; only one person may accompany a patient to a clinic appointment or urgent care visit; all patients and visitors will be screened for symptoms and COVID-19 risk at each visit; and visitors who are sick will not be allowed to accompany the patient.

“We appreciate everyone’s understanding and cooperation during this critical time,” said Dr. Sannes. “We’re encouraging visitors to find other ways to connect with their loved ones when possible, such as FaceTime, Skype or phone calls.”

For the most current information, go to healthpartners.com/coronavirus.

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