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Coronavirus: How to make sure your loved one is safe in an assisted living facility

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How to make sure your loved one is safe in an assisted living facility (Photo: KUTV)

Most people can't step foot inside assisted living facilities because of coronavirus precautions, so how does family know a loved one is safe?

Health officials say there have been multiple COVID-19-related deaths at several Utah facilities over the past few days. Experts say the best thing a family member can do is something they shouldn't do: flood a facility with phone calls.

Afton January with Salt Lake County Aging & Adult Services recommends a family member find a specific person at a care facility to regularly talk with about how their loved one is doing.

“Maybe set up a once a week type thing instead of calling consistently throughout the day,” January said.

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She says there's no reason to believe facilities are any less safe than a month ago.

"Given that we are in a state where we were not the first hot spot, we had some time to prepare," she said.

But that's still much easier said than done.

“It's been extremely difficult,” said Daniel Musto, an ombudsman for the state of Utah.

Musto says it's hard to advocate for people in the 342 facilities they oversee when they can't even go inside.

RELATED: Patients, staff at Salt Lake City nursing facility have coronavirus

"Mistakes may happen, but the thing is, they're looking out for your loved ones, so we just got to put our faith in them that they continue to take care of them.”

Musto says families should ask how the facility is allowing residents to interact and communicate.

"Are they going to provide iPads to the residents so they can do Facetime? Are they going to provide extra phones for communications?”

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Musto also says it’s a good idea to ask how often and exactly how the facility is disinfecting and cleaning.