12-11 COVID-19 Update: Governor Expected to Announce Next Steps Monday, State Deal Close on Relief for Businesses
Governor Walz, Health Care Professionals Urge Caution Friday Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
On Friday, December 11, 2020, Governor Tim Walz joined Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Commissioner Jan Malcolm and health care professionals to urge Minnesotans to take steps to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Governor Tim Walz:
- Day 21 of the “pause,” and there have been decreases in the case positivity rate
- 6.5% positivity rate today, back to rates seen in September
- The COVID-19 business restrictions end Dec. 18
- More than 250 people have died over past three days, approaches number of people who get killed on Minnesota roads in a year.
- Very reasonable to expect vaccinations for front-line health care workers to begin Dec 20 or Dec. 21
- Next seven days will be crucial data wise, says Walz, to decide about whether further restrictions will be needed over holidays and into new year.
Dr. Kevin Croston, CEO of Robbinsdale-based North Memorial Health:
- 6,000 workers at North Memorial Health covering hospitals, clinics and ambulance workers, providing Level 1 trauma care
- “Our people and our facilities are stressed and they’ve become overwhelmed,” said Croston. “I see the impact everyday on them.”
- “They have rightly been called ‘front-line heroes,’ and while they’re indeed demonstrating commitment and effort every single day, I would argue the real front-line of defense is you and me and everyday Minnesotans,” Croston said. “We actually have the power and the responsibility to support those who care for us and our loved by following the public health measures put in place by the state.”
- Croston says North Memorial Health has cared for record numbers of people during the fall surge.
- North Memorial has had to make difficult decisions, sometimes on an hour-by-hour basis, to delay surgeries because of COVID-19 patients, said Croston.
Mimi Keeler, Registered Nurse
- “I speak for all health care workers I believe when I say that we do this because this is truly what we love to do, we love to care for people,” said Keeler. “But I’m here to tell you that we are exhausted. We are spread thin. And we’re getting sick just like everybody else and overworked.”
- No visitors allowed at hospitals. Imagine the impact on those patients admitted, said Keeler.
- ICU beds usually turn over every 3-4 days, COVID-19 has changed all that, she said. It puts hospitals in situations where they need to seek out beds, said Keeler, in some cases sending patients from the Twin Cities to as far away as Duluth or Red Wing.
Dr. Peter Bornstein, Fairview Health Services:
- “Without a doubt, the hardest part of our job, and I think for all of us, is not the intellectual part, it’s the emotional part, watching the separation of family from their loved ones,” said Bornstein.
- “Behind every death there is a family and a story,” Bornstein said. “Please, help us, help you.”
Latest COVID-19 numbers, MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm:
- Globally, 69.9 million cases since start of pandemic; 1.59 million deaths
- In U.S., 15.7 million cases since pandemic began; 293,000 deaths
- In Minnesota, 370,968 total confirmed cases (up 3,773)
- Of the 370,968 cases, 327,509 (88%) are no longer considered infectious
- In Minnesota, 4,292 total deaths (up 94)
- The 94 virus deaths are the second-highest daily total of the pandemic
- Of the 94 newly reported deaths, 52 were residents of long-term care/assisted living facilities
- The percentage of fatalities at long-term care facilities has fallen from about 84% in the spring to about 66% currently
- Hospitalizations for COVID-19 patients has decreased slightly
- 1,118 hospitalized in Minnesota, 343 in intensive care units (ICUs)
- “It really takes a full four weeks to see the full effect,” said Malcolm referring to the COVID-19 restrictions that took effect (three weeks since) and possible social gatherings on Thanksgiving (two weeks since).
- Nationally, 10 new cases per day per every 100,000 people is considered out-of-control virus spread, said Malcolm. Nationally, numbers are at 85 new cases per day per every 100,000 people.
- U.S. was at 120 new cases per day per 100,000 several weeks ago.
Q&A Session and Notes:
- Minnesota legislature very close on providing relief to small businesses by end of year, said Walz, but says there needs to be a federal relief bill as well. Walz says Minnesota only state, so far, close to providing relief package.
- Mitigation measures are not part of the negotiations between lawmakers, said Walz.
- Walz calls impact on bars and restaurants “horribly unfair.”
- “The federal government has had nine months since they’ve moved on anything, they need to move, they need to figure this out,” said Walz. “It’s absolutely outrageous,” he said referring to a lack of national relief for businesses and hospitals impacted by COVID-19.
- Walz said he wasn’t comfortable making decision Friday on next steps for businesses impacted by pause because “data still coming in.”
- Walz said he’s trying to balance people’s Constitutional rights, economics with science and impact on health system.
You can watch Friday’s full briefing here.