10-19 MN COVID-19 Update from the Minnesota Department of Health
Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Update 10-19-2020
The Minnesota Department of Health will hold a conference call Monday to brief members of the media on the latest public health information regarding COVID-19.
October 19, 2020 COVID-19 Update
MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm:
- Globally, 40.2 million cases since start of pandemic; 1.12 million deaths
- In U.S., 8.19 million cases since pandemic began; 219,000 deaths
- In Minnesota, 124,439 total confirmed cases (up 1,632 over prior day on testing volume of 22,171)
- 10th consecutive day of 1,000-plus cases.
- Of the 124,439 cases, 109,963 (88%) are no longer considered infectious
- 3,400 new cases reported over the weekend (Saturday & Sunday).
- In Minnesota, 2,239 total deaths (up 5)
- Age breakdown of 5 new deaths: 2 in 60s, 2 in 80s, 1 in 90s. None of the newly reported deaths in Hennepin County.
- 469 in Minnesota hospitals currently for COVID-19, 137 in MN ICUs
- Case growth higher despite large testing growth, said Malcolm.
- 7-day case positivity rate is 5.8% (4.9% a week ago)
MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann:
- On voting safety: “The risk of in-person voting is comparable to going to the grocery store,” said Ehresmann.
- Recommends voting at off-peak times such as mid-morning
- Stay at least 6 feet away from others and wash hands or use hand sanitizer after leaving polling place
Q&A Session and Notes:
- On making any changes to the messaging: “Public health communication is always something we want to get better at,” said Malcolm. She acknowledges people may tune out Minnesota Department of Health messaging.
- Minnesota House and Senate Republican leaders want more openings with schools, churches, restaurants, youth sports, etc. What would the health impact be? Malcolm: Given case growth over past two weeks, “we would not recommend further increasing gatherings of people,” she said. Many indicators going in wrong direction, she said.
- Cases in the community having impact on health care staff, said Ehresmann.
- On limiting ICU beds to staffing shortages, Ehresmann: Hospital occupancy been above 90% for most of October. COVID-19 ICU bed use has grown from September to October
- In Sept., COVID-19 hospitalizations represent 9% of ICU use and 3% for non-ICU bed use.
- In Oct., COVID-19 related hospitalizations increased to 13% for ICU and 5% for non-ICU bed use.
- “We’re going deeper into the fall and the holiday season at a far higher level of cases than we had hoped,” said Malcolm. Urge limiting family gatherings compared to the past, as “painful as that would be,” would be the more prudent course, she said.
- Ehresmann: Put it into the context of “reducing risk not eliminating it.” If you’re getting together, make sure gatherings are small. (Groups of 10 or less). Consider social distancing inside as well as wearing masks, that’s another way to reduce risk as way to celebrate upcoming holidays.
- Hair salons and barber shops seeing decrease in business. (Hair cutting places allowed to reopen in June) As far as cases, Ehresmann says MDH identified four situations involving customers and staff getting COVID at hair salons across the entire state of Minnesota.
- Judge upheld restrictions at 25% capacity at restaurants in Wisconsin. As far as Minnesota, “I think it is always possible,” restrictions could get tighter here, said Malcolm. “Our preference would be that folks follow the guidance, take precautions, and that would certainly help us to avoid having to dial back further.”
- Saliva testing starts Tuesday in Brooklyn Park. “Having different types of tests available,” is for the better, said Malcolm. Just having the test results is only part of the story. People need to act on the results as well, quarantining if need be, help with contact tracing.
- “We have made tremendous progress in Minnesota,” when it comes to protecting residents in long-term care facilities, said Malcolm. Ranked #39 out of 50 (only 11 states better) when it comes to case numbers at LTC settings. Spread driven by staff getting infected.
- On plastic shields, Ehresmann says it makes “a slight” difference, but not same effect as cloth masks.
- 3 out of 5 dial measures in caution range. What would it take to dial back? Malcolm: We look at the context behind the data, but there’s no question “the level of concern is increasing.”