2-24 COVID-19 Update: MDH Wants Families with Kids in School Tested Every Two Weeks
2-24 COVID-19 Update from Minnesota Department of Health
The Minnesota Department of Health held a conference call Wednesday to brief members of the media on the latest public health information regarding COVID-19.
You can watch the full MDH briefing here.
MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm:
- In Minnesota, a total of 480,845 cases since pandemic began (up 761)
- In Minnesota, a total of 6,443 deaths since start of pandemic (up 9)
- Of the 9 newly reported deaths, 2 were residents of long-time care/assisted living
- Deaths include one person in age 55-59 group and four people in their 60s.
- 292 people currently hospitalized in Minnesota with COVID-19, 59 of those in intensive care.
- State’s 7-day rolling average case positivity rate is 3.7%, a slight increase.
Latest on COVID-19 Vaccines
- Total vaccine doses administered stands at 1.14 million in Minnesota
- More than 770,000 people have received at least one dose in Minnesota
- 364,331 people age 65+ have received at least one dose
- Walmart announced it make vaccines available at Brooklyn Center location starting Friday.
- Walmart expects to offer 200-300 doses per day over 3-week period
- MDH doesn’t have allocation projection yet for number of doses state will receive next week
- Takes two weeks for full immunity after second shot, said Malcolm.
MDH Director of Infectious Disease Kris Ehresmann:
- Federal review of Johnson & Johnson vaccine found that it was safe and effective. Recommendation of approval from federal panel of health advisors expected on Friday. Full FDA approval expected at end of this week.
- Not sure exactly when Johnson & Johnson vaccine will arrive in Minnesota
- Johnson & Johnson vaccine is one-dose shot and requires less stringent handling.
- 72% percent effective at preventing moderate COVID-19 symptoms and 85% effective against severe disease, said Ehresmann. 100% effective against COVID-19 related hospitalizations and death.
- Clinical trials also show similar efficacy against variants of the novel coronavirus.
- MDH likely to use Johnson & Johnson vaccine for populations not likely to receive second dose. This could include people with transportation issues, people with disabilities and homeless population. Ehresmann this vaccine will also be used for all Minnesotans, but as previously stated, goal is to “immunize for impact.”
Minnesota Launches Youth Testing Campaign
- Health officials ask families to get tested every two weeks until end of school year
- “With the rate of infection in decline, Governor Walz has adjusted the dials so children and young adults can resume youth sports and other activities. To protect this progress, we need to use all the tools at our disposal,” said MDH Assistant Commissioner Dan Huff in a statement to CCX News. “That’s why we are asking parents to make regular testing a priority for their families. Testing can help spot a single case early and prevent it from becoming many cases.”
- The recommendation is for all youth returning to school, youth sports, or extracurricular activities to get tested every two weeks through the end of the school year. (You may recall two weeks is incubation period of the virus, SARS-coV-2)
- More than 20 community testing sites across the state, in addition to health providers
- Parents can also use testing at home program
- MDH also recommends that teachers and staff who are participating in the state’s testing programs to continue to do so until even after they receive their second dose of vaccine.
- More than 72,700 tests have been administered in educator testing program, with a positivity rate of 0.35%.
Q&A Session and Notes
- On recommendation that teachers and health care workers continue to get tested, MDH says it’s uncertain about vaccine’s protection from asymptomatic disease. MDH expects more data to come on this.
- MDH doesn’t expect testing backlog from new recommendation for families with students to get tested every two weeks.